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Chapter 7 Summary

Diverse signal transduction pathways exist within all neurons. Activation of these pathways typically is initiated by chemical signals such as neurotransmitters and hormones, which bind to receptors that include ligand-gated ion channels, G-protein-coupled receptors and tyrosine kinase receptors. Many of these receptors activate either heterotrimeric or monomeric G-proteins that regulate intracellular enzyme cascades and/or ion channels. A common outcome of the activation of these receptors is the production of second messengers, such as cAMP, Ca2+, and IP3, that bind to effector enzymes. Particularly important effectors are protein kinases and phosphatases that regulate the phosphorylation state of their substrates, and thus their function. These substrates can be metabolic enzymes or other signal transduction molecules, such as ion channels, protein kinases, or transcription factors that regulate gene expression. Examples of such transcription factors include CREB, steroid hormone receptors, and c-fos. This plethora of molecular components allows intracellular signal transduction pathways to generate responses over a wide range of times and distances, greatly augmenting and refining the information-processing ability of neuronal circuits and, ultimately, brain systems.