Biology Pathways and Pathway Databases

What is a biological pathway?

A biological pathway is a series of actions among molecules in a cell that leads to a certain product or a change in the cell. Such a pathway can trigger the assembly of new molecules, such as a fat or protein. Pathways can also turn genes on and off, or spur a cell to move.

How do biological pathways work?

For your body to develop properly and stay healthy, many things must work together at many different levels – from organs to cells to genes.

From both inside and outside the body, cells are constantly receiving chemical cues prompted by such things as injury, infection, stress or even the presence or lack of food. To react and adjust to these cues, cells send and receive signals through biological pathways. The molecules that make up biological pathways interact with signals, as well as with each other, to carry out their designated tasks.

Biological pathways can act over short or long distances. For example, some cells send signals to nearby cells to repair localized damage, such as a scratch on a knee. Other cells produce substances, such as hormones, that travel through the blood to distant target cells.

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