AAT Bioquest

What are the differences between ligands and receptors?

Posted October 24, 2022



Ligands and receptors are both components of the cell signaling pathway. There are a few significant differences between the two. Ligands are chemical messengers that are transmitted by one cell to signal either itself or another cell that may be near or at a distance away. Ligands may be ions or neutral molecules that are connected to a central atom or ion. They are also known as signaling molecules. 


Receptors are proteins that have a specific chemical structure and are present either inside the cell within the cytoplasm or nucleus or on the cell surface embedded within the plasma membrane. The hydrogen bonding in receptors is formed in polar-polar interaction. Receptors are also known as receiving molecules. 

Additional resources

Plasma Membrane

Cell Meter™ Beta-Arrestin Translocation GPCR Signaling Kit

Signals and Receptors