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Receptor Protein

In biochemistry, a receptor is a protein on the cell membrane or within the cytoplasm that binds to a specific factor (a ligand), such as a neurotransmitter, hormone, or other substance, and initiates the cellular response to the ligand. As all receptors are proteins, their structure is encoded into the DNA. Most hormone genes contain a short sequence that signals to the cell whether it needs to be transported to the cell membrane or it is to remain in the cytoplasm.


Many genetic disorders involve hereditary defects in receptor genes. Often, it is hard to determine whether the receptor is nonfunctional or the hormone is produced at decreased level; this gives rise to the "pseudo-hypo-" group of endocrine disorders, where there appears to be a decreased hormonal level while in fact it is the receptor that is not responding sufficiently to the hormone.

Transmembrane receptor:E=extracellular space; I=intracellular space; P=plasma membrane
Transmembrane receptor:E=extracellular space; I=intracellular space; P=plasma membrane

Receptors exist in different types, dependent on their ligand and function:

Peripheral membrane protein receptors

Transmembrane receptors

Metabotropic receptors


G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs)

These receptors are also known as seven transmembrane receptors or 7TM receptors.

Tyrosine kinase receptors

Guanylyl cyclase receptors

Ionotropic receptors

Intracellular receptors

Transcription factors


See also:

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