Tag for questions related to the process of cells receiving a stimulus from its environment, or from itself (autocrine signaling), and responding as a result of the stimulus.
In order to respond to changes in their immediate environment, cells must be able to receive and process signals that originate outside their borders. Individual cells often receive many signals simultaneously, and they then integrate the information they receive into a unified action plan. But cells aren't just targets. They also send out messages to other cells both near and far.
Cells typically receive signals in chemical form via various signaling molecules. When a signaling molecule joins with an appropriate receptor on a cell surface, this binding triggers a chain of events that not only carries the signal to the cell interior, but amplifies it as well. Cells can also send signaling molecules to other cells. Some of these chemical signals — including neurotransmitters — travel only a short distance, but others must go much farther to reach their targets.