Transduction (physiology)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

Jump to: navigation, search

In physiology, transduction is the conversion of a stimulus from one form to another.

Transduction in the nervous system typically refers to stimulus alerting events wherein a mechanical/physical/etc stimulus is converted into an action potential which is transmitted along axons towards the central nervous system where it is integrated.

For example, in the visual system, sensory cells called rod and cone cells in the retina convert the physical energy of light signals into electrical impulses that travel to the brain. The light causes a conformational change in a protein called rhodopsin. This conformational change sets in motion a series of molecular events that result in a reduction of the electrochemical gradient of the photoreceptor. The decrease in the electrochemical gradient causes a reduction in the electrical signals going to the brain. Thus, in this example, more light hitting the photoreceptor results in the transduction of a signal into fewer electrical impulses, effectively communicating that stimulus to the brain. A change in neurotransmitter release is mediated through a second messenger system. Note that the change in neurotransmitter release is by rods. Because of the change, a change in light intensity causes the response of the rods to be much slower than expected (for a process associated with the nervous system).[1]

In the olfactory system, odorant molecules in the mucus bind to G-protein receptors on olfactory cells. The G-protein activates a downstream signalling cascade that causes increased level of cyclic-AMP (cAMP), which trigger neurotransmitter release.[2]

In neuroanatomy, sensory transduction is the process in which a receptor cell converts the energy in a stimulus into a change in the electrical potential across its membrane.[3] It causes the depolarization of the membrane to allow the neuroimpulse to be transducted to the brain for integration.[1]

In the gustatory system, our perception of five primary taste qualities (sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami) depends on taste transduction pathways, through taste receptor cells, G proteins, ion channels, and effector enzymes.[4]


  1. ^ a b Silverthorn, Dee Unglaub. Human Physiology: An Integrated Approach, 3rd Edition, Inc, San Francisco, CA, 2004.
  2. ^ Ronnett, Gabriele V., & Moon, Cheil. L (2002). G PROTEINS AND OLFACTORY SIGNAL TRANSDUCTION. 64. pp. 189–222. doi:10.1146/annurev.physiol.64.082701.102219.
  3. ^ Breedlove, S.M., Rosenzweig, M.R., & Watson, N.V., Biological Psychology, 5th Edition, Sinauer Associates, Inc, Sunderland, MA, 2007
  4. ^ Timothy A Gilbertson; Sami Damak; Robert F Margolskee, "The molecular physiology of taste transduction", Current Opinion in Neurobiology (August 2000), 10 (4), pg. 519-527