Editorial overview: Synthetic sensors and signals — new tools for a new trade

Andreas Möglich, Harald Janovjak

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorial


Nature has evolved a plethora of means that allow living organisms to detect
and adequately respond to their environment. In particular, sensory and signaling proteins, which are essential for cell and organism survival, have undergone remarkable specialization in virtually every aspect of their function. These specializations include the types of received inputs, the delivered outputs and the mechanisms of input-to-output conversion. Input signals are highly diverse and encompass chemical (e.g. small molecules or proteins) and physical stimuli (e.g. light, pressure or temperature). Conversion into outputs occurs in individual proteins or functional protein clusters through conformational transitions, changes in dynamics and biochemical reactions that ultimately result in the modulation of cellular state and activity. The advent of powerful proteomic and genomic techniques has dramatically increased our understanding of sensory and signaling proteins in the past decades. In particular, we now have a firm grip of the identity and molecular function of sensory circuits. One vibrant area of research strives to better understand how biological inputs are received and processed during physiologically important processes in living cells and behaving animals. This is a non-trivial endeavor as biological signaling is inherently dynamic in space and time (i.e. it occurs over a wide range of time and length scales) and thereby pushes the workhorse genetic and pharmacological technologies that have served us so well in the past decades to their limit.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)iii-v
Number of pages3
JournalCurrent Opinion in Structural Biology
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Synthetic Sensors
  • Signals
  • New Trade


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