Biochemistry

Biochemistry

212 Biochemistry b y D V o e t a n d J G V o e t . p p 1223. J o h n W i l e y a n d Sons, N e w Y o r k . 1990. $54.95 ISBN 0-471-61769-5 Lehninger'...

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Biochemistry b y D V o e t a n d J G V o e t . p p 1223. J o h n W i l e y a n d Sons, N e w Y o r k . 1990. $54.95 ISBN 0-471-61769-5 Lehninger's Biochemistry is a difficult act to follow, but a number of authors nonetheless appear anxious to try. The Voets' textbook represents one of the more interesting attempts and, especially in its overall architecture, largely succeeds. There is an understandable conservatism in introductory biochemistry books, and this text is certainly conservative in following the usual sequence of solution chemistry, proteins, enzymes, metabolism, and molecular biology. However, the authors modify this general plan in several interesting ways. For example, Chapter 3 is a review of equilbrium thermodynamics, and its early inclusion is a measure of the authors' welcome seriousness about the topic, a seriousness also evident elsewhere in the book. The chapters about proteins include one on purification (to lend concreteness to proteins), a n d one on hemoglobin (to provide specific examples of topics already presented, and to give an excuse to discuss allostery), q~hey have also exhibited the courage to avoid a separate chapter on coenzymes, arguably the dullest chapter in many books. Instead, eocaazymes are integrated in the metabolic sections where they make the most sense. The execution of this admirable plan sometimes falls short of expectation. The illustrations in the text are extremely lavish, but some fail to inform, being apparently designed on aesthetic, rather than pedagogic, grounds. Illustrations of cells in beautiful color schemes are, however, too small to communicate as much as they should about structural relationships. Likewise, the first figure in the section on metabolism is a full-page metabolic chart (courtesy of B D H Ltd) with so many arrows and compounds that it communicates almost nothing. P~rhaps it is intended to illustrate the complexity of metabolism, but that can be accomplished better and with less irrita*tion in a few words. The clarity of the text portion is uncommonly variable, with some sentences having to be read repeatedly before the meaning emerges. It appears that the editors nodded occasionally, thereby producing a similar effect on the reader. Like every first edition, this one is sprinkled with errors. For example, "The Vital Force: A Study of Bioenergetics" was written by Franklin Harold, and not H.M. Franklin. Such mistakes are, of course, trivial and will annoy (or amuse) instructors, but not students, and will, in any case, be rooted out in another edition. Finally there are promising opportunities that appear not to have been sufficiently exploited. For example, it was encouraging that nonequilibrium thermodynamics was mentioned in the chapter introducing metabolism, but a little more discussion (and perhaps a small amount of mathematics) would~ have shown the power of this discipline in describing transport and metabolic fluxes. All in all, this is a very good beginning; with the help of careful editing, the book will undoubtedly improve and flourish in a second edition. J Howland

The Dictionary of Cell Biology E d i t e d b y J M L a c k i e a n d J A T D o w . p p 262. A c a d e m i c P r e s s , L o n d o n . 1989. £9.95 ( p b k ) ISBN 0-12-432461-0 A m I mistaken, or has there been a marked increase in the publication of dictionaries in the life sciences during the last 10 years or so? This could be an indication that the development of the Biological Sciences is reaching a plateau, so that instead of writing research papers, those anxious to publish have decided to pause and take stock. Alternatively, and this is the more likely

BIOCHEMICAL EDUCATION 18(4) 1990

explanation, the Life Sciences are still developing at such a rate that every biologist needs reference works to keep in touch with progress in other fields. According to the editorial preface, The Dictionary of Cell Biology was conceived to serve the needs of undergraduates in the University of Glasgow, who "all too often did not seem to know the meanings of terms we felt were commonplace in cell biology, or were unable, for example, to find out what compounds in general use were supposed to do". Clearly, however, the editors and publishers hope to capture a wider audience than the undergraduates of Glasgow. The illdefined subject of cell biology completely or partly covers several pieces of a dauntingly complicated jigsaw of disciplines. Wisely, therefore, no attempt has been made narrowly to define cell biology, and many entries are from mainstream biochemistry, genetics, physiology, medicine, etc. The following examples provide some idea of the width coverage: homeotic mutant, pyruvate dehydrogenase, abscess, gastrulation, cell cycle, silicosis, van der Waal's attraction, Western blotting, peribacteroid membrane; and if one remembers the needs of the Glasgow undergraduates, even the entries, Mimosa pudica, endarteritis and wart, should cause no surprise. Thus, the dictionary contains nearly 4000 definitions, which will be appreciated by both staff and students. In many instances, one might wish for more information than is contained in the brief definition, but then this is a true dictionary, perhaps most useful as an aide memoire, and it does not pretend to be a large reference work. The printing and layout of each page is superbly clear, and the sentence construction and use of words have (I assume) been carefully edited to give very readable entries. T A Scott

Mechanisms of Cooperativity and Allosteric Regulation in Proteins b y M a x P e r u t z . p p 101. C a m b r i d g e U n i v e r s i t y Press. 1989. £11.95 ISBN 0-521-38649-9 Cooperativity and allostery are properties of many proteins. They are mediated by changes in conformation consequent on the binding to them of certain small molecules or ions. Whether the proteins involved are oxygen carriers, enzymes, repressors (or other DNA-building proteins), immunoglobulins, or membrane proteins, such conformational changes may significantly enhance or decrease their biological functions and may have important consequences on the life processes occurring within cells or organisms. Coming as it did almost within a decade of the discovery of how the structure of D N A holds the secret of heredity, the conception by Jacques Monod, that allosteric proteins promote and coordinate chemical events within living systems led him to consider it to be nothing less than the second secret of life. This is a scholarly monograph by a pillar of modern biochemistry and one who has contributed greatly to the topic being discussed. A brief preface lays out the historical and some of the human aspects of the discovery of cooperativity and allosteric regulation in proteins. Then the basic facts are presented as they apply to several oxygen carriers, four enzymes, a couple of repressors and, briefly, immunoglobulins and membrane proteins. There are 63 illustrations including eight color plates, an extensive list of references, and an index. This book should appeal particularly to protein chemists and to students and researchers in many areas of molecular biological science. Those who are especially interested in the interrelationships between, and the mechanisms of, biological function and molecular structure o f p r o t e i n s and the conformational changes or movements within the molecules that link the two, will find it to be of great interest. F Vella