Cell Receptors: Everything You Need to Know

With drawings of visual cell receptors, Riley teaches her viewers about what receptors are and how they work. To put it basically, cell receptors are just special proteins. The human body contains many different types of receptors. The basic parts of the receptor are the cell, the extracellular space, which means outside of the cell, and the intracellular space, which means inside of the cell. To conceptualize, Riley makes the analogy that the intracellular space speaks a different language than the extracellular space. The receptor allows the conversion of the languages so that the spaces can communicate with each other.

Binding Molecules

Once a molecule, such as THC, has bounded to a receptor it will cause an activation or inhibition pathway inside of the cell. This isn’t just for any molecule and receptor, though. It is a very specific interaction between THC and the receptor it binds to. 

Lock & Key

This interaction is often referred to as a lock and key analogy. The receptor would act as the lock and the molecule would act as the key. You need the right key to unlock a cellular response. The molecules that bind to receptors are called ligands. Ligands will bind to the outside part of the cell. Only the right size and shape of ligand (or the key) can bind to and unlock receptors (or the lock). Receptors only allow ligands that are meant for that receptor to bind to it. So a ligand meant for the CB1 receptor will not be able to bind to the CB2 receptor. 

Keeping Up With Riley

You can keep up with Riley Dee on her Tik Tok account named Cannabichem, as well as right here on the Arbor Vita8 website! 

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Clip Transcript

Riley Dee:
Okay. Today, I’m working from home, which means I’m wearing my snow day sweater. I have bad lighting, and we’re going to talk about what a receptor is. So maybe some of your old biology textbooks have receptors depicted like this, or maybe between the lipid bilayer, so they look like this. Or maybe GPCRs, which look like this. For today’s video, to keep it simple, we’re only going to talk about this figure. The extracellular space is the part outside of a cell and the intracellular space is the part inside of a cell.

So I like to conceptualize this like the outside of the cell speaks a different language than the inside of the cell. The receptor allows that language conversion so that they can communicate. Once a molecule, such as THC, has bound to a receptor, it will cause some sort of activation or inhibition pathway inside the cell. However, this can’t just be any old molecule and any old receptor. This is a very specific interaction.

Clip Transcript

Part two of receptors in regards to the endocannabinoid system. So in my last video, I ended off saying that the interaction between a molecule, such as THC, and a receptor is incredibly specific, and this is what I mean by that. People often refer to this as a lock and a key analogy. The lock is your specific receptor, such as a CB1 or a CB2 receptor, and then your key is a molecule, such as CBD or THC. And we call these molecules that bind to receptor ligands.

This is an exaggerated drawing to display that concept, but essentially the receptor is shaped in a specific way to only allow ligands that are meant to bind to that receptor to bind. Okay, again, an oversimplified drawing here, but we have a different ligand or a key and a different lock. Only specific shaped molecules are going to be able to unlock that lock and release the signal cascade.


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