poetry in science has been done. Oh what a beautiful abstract from a 1981 paper on membrane potential measurements
By now, it’s well established that the surface of a cell
Contains transmembrane proteins which, on binding ligands, tell
The biochemical computer inside what to do
Without a need for any of the ligands coming through.
Receptor-triggered cytoplasmic “interrupt routines”
May lead the nucleus to activate new sets of genes,
Or otherwise induce a cell, which never reasons why,
To twitch, secrete, endocytose, or reproduce, or die.
By merely watching labeled ligands bind, we cannot know
Down which of many paths the cells thus tagged are apt to go,
But other changes, shortly after binding, may predict
Which of its several options any given cell has picked.
Flow cytometric methods are described here which allow
Membrane potential to be estimated, to show how
Potential changes may occur in seconds after binding
Of ligand to a functional receptor, or for finding
No change when cells don’t have the right receptor, or can’t see
The ligand for antagonists of like affinity.
With chlorotetracycline fluorescence, one can find
Release of membrane calcium soon after ligands bind;
Both this and the potential measurement can help support
Decisions in an instrument about which cells to sort,
Though narrowing the distributions which these methods yield
Would greatly help to broaden applications in this field.