PerspectiveCell Biology

A Scaffold Switch to Insulate

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Science  07 Sep 2012:
Vol. 337, Issue 6099, pp. 1178-1179
DOI: 10.1126/science.1227747

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A fundamental aspect of normal physiology is that cellular signal transduction pathways activated by specific stimuli should lead to appropriate responses. But signaling proteins may function in more than one pathway. How then does specificity arise? How is improper crosstalk avoided? Molecules that can tether signaling proteins in a spatially restricted manner represent one possible mechanism. Such scaffolds may act as insulators that maintain the fidelity of signaling by physically sequestering proteins into distinct pools. On page 1218 of this issue, Zalatan et al. (1) demonstrate that the insulating function of the prototypical scaffold protein Ste5 is accomplished by a change in its conformation, indicating that the scaffold actively gates the flow of information and is not merely a passive, static structure.