Molecules: Interactions Within Organisms


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Molecules: Interactions Within Organisms (Campbell Biology)

At lower levels of organization, the interactions between components that make up living organisms—organs, tissues, cells, and molecules—are crucial to their smooth operation. Consider the regulation of blood sugar levels, for instance. Cells in the body must match the supply of fuel (sugar) to demand, regulating the opposing processes of sugar breakdown and storage. The key is the ability of many biological processes to self-regulate by a mechanism called feedback.

In feedback regulation, the output or product of a process regulates that very process. The most common form of regulation in living systems is negative feedback, a loop in which the response reduces the initial stimulus. After a meal the level of the sugar glucose in your blood rises, which stimulates cells of the pancreas to secrete insulin. Insulin, in turn, causes body cells to take up glucose and liver cells to store it, thus decreasing blood glucose levels. This eliminates the stimulus for insulin secretion, shutting off the pathway. Thus, the output of the process negatively regulates that process.

Though less common than processes regulated by negative feedback, there are also many biological processes regulated by positive feedback, in which an end product speeds up its own production. The clotting of your blood in response to injury is an example. When a blood vessel is damaged, structures in the blood called platelets begin to aggregate at the site. Positive feedback occurs as chemicals released by the platelets attract more platelets. The platelet pileup then initiates a complex process that seals the wound with a clot.


Urry, Lisa A.. Campbell Biology. Pearson Education. Kindle Edition.


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