Narrator: This is Science Today. When you think about how a cell is constantly bombarded by chemical messages, the big question is how are these messages ultimately 'heard' as a single command. Keith Yamamoto, chairman of molecular and cellular pharmacology at the University of California, San Francisco, says this puzzle raises a real challenge.
Yamamoto: How do two signals work together? How do four? How do eighteen work together? And so the question of physiology - and in the end, disease - is going to come down to understanding how it is that multiple signals work together, to give rise to what comes out in the end in a particular cell that we're examining or the particular cell that is in a disease state.
Narrator: Yamamoto's lab recently deciphered a chemical pathway that determines the survival of immune cells.
Yamamoto: There are specific things about the immune system that we can take away from this bit of knowledge, but as basic scientists, one of the more exciting parts about it is not so much necessarily the application, but that it gives us a way of thinking about how the complexity can be built up.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.