In biochemistry, cyclic AMP is an "adenine nucleotide containing one phosphate group which is esterified to both the 3'- and 5'-positions of the sugar moiety. It is a second messenger and a key intracellular regulator, functioning as a mediator of activity for a number of hormones, including epinephrine, glucagon, and ACTH."
In signal transduction, cell surface receptors may activate second messenger systems such as adenyl cyclase-cyclic AMP and cyclic GMP which then may activate protein kinases which then affect downstream targets (see figure).
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