The Neurotransmitter Collection
All organisms must deal with a wide spectrum of different environments and be able to react to various factors such as danger, food gathering, and interactons with other organisms. In bacteria, a major problem is determining the origin of a food supply. This is usually dealt with the chemotactic response mechanism where bacteria sense and swim toward food sources, and away from noxious conditions.
Multicellular organisms have evolved a complex system that responds to external stimuli through the use of specialized sense organs and the communication of the information from these sensors to other parts of the organism. This type of communication falls into two categories. The first category is the transmission of chemical messengers between one tissue and another. The second is the more complex mechanism and involves the generation and transmission of impulses through the central nervous system.
In higher organisms, the central nervous system is composed mainly of a highly specialized cell termed a neuron, which serves only to transmit impulses. The basic cellular structure for neurons differs radically from that of other cells. Neurons have a cell body somewhat like that found in other somatic cells, however they also have a variety of projections (or processes) called dendrites and axons. Dendrites receive neural signals from another cell and axons transmit the signal to a dendrite on an adjacent cell.
The connection between the axons of one cell and the dendrites of an adjacent cell is called a synapse. The transmission of signals across a synapse is accomplished by the use of small chemical messengers that are termed neurotransmitters. There are several major classes of neurotransmitters that function in several types of synaptic junctions. Acetyl choline is used for fast responses, catecholamines transmit signals in adrenergic synapses of the brain and smooth muscle, while some amino acids act as neurotransmitters used in inhibitory signals.
Our neurotransmitter collection contains several of the common biochemicals that are commercially available and relatively easy to crystallize.