Cell boundary theorem

Published on January 30, 2012 Updated on March 23, 2020   30 min

A selection of talks on Neurology

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My name is Eduardo Rios. I work in the section of cellular signaling at Rush University in Chicago. As you can see from this picture taken in the boundary waters of Northwest Wisconsin, the title of this lecture is the cell boundary theorem. The topic is an idea, actually a principle of the physics that rules the movement of solutes between cells and their environment. As we shall see later, this idea was known by many researchers in the field of calcium signaling, and it was probably in this field that it was first understood. Given that calcium was one of the first signaling molecules to be studied and thought about. But it is not solely applicable to calcium as it applies to all transported solutes. In the lecture we will make sure that you keep this in mind.
I thought of introducing this idea formally in the literature two or three years ago, as I saw how often it was ignored or just contradicted in published work. I did it in a short paper published in the Journal of Physiological Sciences. In purposely formulating it as a theorem, I meant to emphasize that it was true, demonstrable from first principles and therefore could not be violated. The concept appears trivial to some, but to others it feels surprising and not immediately easy to grasp. Of approximately 40 colleagues, faculty and students who attend the cell Signaling Journal Club in our section about 10 found the idea trivial. All others had various degrees of difficulty with it, interestingly, so did the three referees that reviewed our manuscript for the Journal of Physiological Sciences.