Dictionary of Human Evolution and Biology

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1. cell or nerve ending at the tip of a sensory neuron that is specialized to respond to a particular type of stimulus. Examples are the free nerve endings of sensory nerve fibers associated with touch, gustatory cells in the taste buds of the tongue, and photoreceptors embedded in the retina of the eye.

2. structure, usually a protein, embedded in the plasma membrane of a cell that binds with a specific substance. Receptors have numerous functions, including opening channels in the membrane for substances to pass through and beginning a cascade of metabolic effects within the cell.

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