Table of Contents
Journal of Thermodynamics
Volume 2012, Article ID 432143, 10 pages
Research Article

Nonequilibrium Thermodynamics of Cell Signaling

Computational Genomics Department, National Institute of Genomic Medicine, Periférico Sur 4809, Col. Arenal Tepepan, Delegación Tlalpan, 14610 Mexico City, DF, Mexico

Received 12 March 2012; Revised 7 June 2012; Accepted 9 June 2012

Academic Editor: Ali-Akbar Saboury

Copyright © 2012 Enrique Hernández-Lemus. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Signal transduction inside and across the cells, also called cellular signaling, is key to most biological functions and is ultimately related with both life and death of the organisms. The processes giving rise to the propagation of biosignals are complex and extremely cooperative and occur in a far-from thermodynamic equilibrium regime. They are also driven by activation kinetics strongly dependent on local energetics. For these reasons, a nonequilibrium thermodynamical description, taking into account not just the activation of second messengers, but also transport processes and dissipation is desirable. Here we present a proposal for such a formalism, that considers cells as small thermodynamical systems and incorporates the role of fluctuations as intrinsic to the dynamics in a spirit guided by mesoscopic nonequilibrium thermodynamics. We present also a minimal model for cellular signaling that includes contributions from activation, transport, and intrinsic fluctuations. We finally illustrate its feasibility by considering the case of FAS signaling which is a vital signal transduction pathway that determines either cell survival or death by apoptosis.