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Cellular signal transduction


Admission requirements & Registration

This course is mandatory for and restricted to students who do the Minor ‘Computational approach to Disease Signaling and Drug Targets’ (CADSDT; the entire Minor or only Part 2) or the Elective Module DSDT. The same admission criteria apply to this course as for the respective afore mentioned programs. Registration for the lectures and exam via uSis is mandatory.


This course will discuss the basic concepts of cellular signal transduction. The role of Signal transduction pathways involving (receptor) kinases, G-protein coupled receptors, adhesion receptors, cytokine receptors, and nuclear hormone receptors in disease development, progression and drug development is discussed.

Disease development and progression is largely due to the activation and or modulation of cellular signaling. Mutations in signaling pathways that drive cell proliferation are key to cancer development and progression. In atherosclerosis, immune signaling is essential to promote plaque formation. Given the involvement of perturbed signaling in disease, components of signaling networks are important candidate drug targets. The course will discuss the concepts of cellular signal transduction and focus on (receptor) kinases, G-protein coupled receptors, cytokine receptors, and nuclear hormone receptors. We will discuss how these receptors are activated and which downstream signaling pathways are subsequently activated. Moreover, we will discuss how these different signaling pathways are also integrated in complex signaling networks that control biological outcome. We will further illustrate in what way these signaling pathways are involved in disease development and progression and how we can make use of this knowledge to develop novel therapeutic strategies using cancer and atherosclerosis as examples.

The aim of the CST course is to provide a strong basis for the understanding of cellular signal transduction, its role in disease, and its application in drug development.

Course Objectives

  • To gain insight in the basic concepts of cellular signal transduction

  • To understand the overall concept that alterations in cell signaling pathways are involved in disease development and progression.

  • To gain knowledge on the functioning and regulation of kinases, phosphatases, adhesion receptors, G-protein coupled receptors, nuclear hormone receptors, cytokine and their receptors.

  • To gain insight in the role of the various signaling pathways in development and progression of cancer and atherosclerosis.

  • To understand which elements in the various signaling pathways represent candidate drug targets for treatment of cancer and atherosclerosis.

  • To understand how the host immune system modulates disease progression.


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Always check the detailed schedule on the Brightspace module of each Course 2-3 weeks before the start of the Course for group-specific meetings, (intermediate) deadlines, etc..

Mode of instruction

The course will use a combination of lectures, discussions of assigned literature. Most of the lectures will be offered in the morning. Literature-based work group discussions will provide direct interaction between students and staff. Students will work in groups on an assignment, where they will implicate a signal transduction pathway and related therapeutic applications in different disease topics.

Assessment method

A presentation and report on the assignment as well as a general written exam. Students will be graded individually for the assignment presentation/report and for the written exam. The assignment will account for 25% and written exam for 75%.

Reading list

Literature will be provided during the course.



Ms. Dr. A.C. Foks