Harper's biochemistry (21st Edition): By RK ... - Wiley Online Library

Harper's Biochemistry (21st Edition) by R K Murray, D K Granner, P A Mayes and V W. Rodwell. pp 700. Appleton and Lange, Connecticut. 1988. ISBN 0-838...

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Harper's Biochemistry (21st Edition) by R K M u r r a y , D K G r a n n e r , P A M a y e s and V W R o d w e l l . p p 700. A p p l e t o n a n d L a n g e , C o n n e c t i c u t . 1988. ISBN 0-8385-3648-4 The latest edition of this frequently-revised book carries the name of R K Murray (a professor at the University of Toronto) as senior author (in place of that of D W Martin). Several other changes distinguish it significantly from the previous edition. Although the number of pages is slightly less, there are ten more chapters. Of these, six are new ones and focus on Biochemistry and Medicine, Biomolecules and Biochemical Methods, Enzymes - - Mechanism of Action, Overview of Intermediary Metabolism, Recombinant D N A Technology, and Cancer, Oncogenes and Growth Factors, respectively. The first two constitute the introduction to the six sections into which the book is now divided. Also new is an appendix on Chemical Constituents of Blood and Body Fluids which summarises useful knowledge on biochemical laboratory tests commonly used in clinical medicine, and lists some normal laboratory values for various constituents of these fluids. There is much evidence of rewriting and trimming of the text in many chapters, with updating and revision of illustrations and of references. The index is extensive (though atriopeptin described on p 479 is not listed). Notably absent are the two former introductory chapters which gave a brief review of chemical principles and of Water and its Properties, and those on Water-Soluble Vitamins, FatSoluble Vitamins, Chemistry of Respiration, Water and Minerals, and Nutrition. Some of the material from these has been redistributed, mostly in tabular or other abbreviated form, elsewhere. In keeping with a stated intention of the authors that the book 'reflect the latest advances in biochemistry that are important in medicine' one can find material on blot transfers, ch~omosome walking, cosmids, DNA transfection, gene mapping, gene therapy, Gn RH-associated peptide (GAP), protooncogenes, oncogenes, silencer sequences, snurps, pBR322 and other vectors, to name only a few. Sections IV (on Informational Macromolecules) and V (on Extracellular and Intracellular Communication) are rich in information on the structure, chromosomal location, expression and possible clinical significance of genes for a variety of proteins (eg polypeptide hormones and their receptors), and on the effect of steroid hormone receptors on gene expression. This is in keeping with the definition of biochemistry (given on p 2) by which 'biochemistry encompasses wide areas of cell biology and all of molecular biology'. There are a few statements which are ambiguous, and some which are not strictly correct (which have been carried over from the previous edition). Few in number, they do not mar the achievement of a well-organised, well-presented, well-illustrated, book which is in tune with current developments in cell and molecular biology. I have little doubt that this edition will retain the popularity of its predecessors with medical students (at whom it is specifically targetted), physicians, and instructors of biochemistry throughout the world. F Vella

Modern Biochemistry (Third Edition) by C Y L i m - S y l i a n c o . p p 626. A u r u m T e c h n i c a l B o o k s , Philippines. 1987. The price of textbooks published in the developed countries is much too high to permit their purchase by most students or institutions in many parts of the world. This is as true of textbooks of biochemistry as it is of other scientific books. The author of this book has tried to meet this problem by having her book published locally at a price her students can just about afford


(about $US3). Her success is reflected in the eight printings of two previous editions in nine years. Although not glamorous (it is printed on recycled paper), it is well bound, very functional, and surprisingly presentable. The line drawings and structural formulae it contains are quite acceptable. Closer editing would have enhanced the value of the book, as would better division of the material in each chapter into subtitled sections, highlighting of key words and a more extensive index. The first chapter surveys briefly biochemical systems and cell organelles. It is followed by five chapters which are concerned mainly with structure and function relationships of nucleic acids, proteins, enzymes, carbohydrates and lipids. These present much useful material that students (myself included) would have difficulty in obtaining elsewhere. These take up just over onehalf of the text and contain more chemistry than is usual in biochemistry textbooks. The remaining six chapters focus on metabolism and physiological processes, ie digestion and absorption, biosynthetic pathways, degradative pathways, metabolic regulation, clinical and physiological aspects, respectively. Though concepts are frequently introduced without prior preparation or much explanation, and some metabolic pathways are given only in highly schematic form, the author's interest in her subject and in the effects of the environment (and of pollutants) on biomolecular systems are very clear. She is to be congratulated for her attempts to make biochemical knowledge available in this way to students in her country. The book reflects her dedication to the subject. F Vella

Mayonnaise and the Origin of Life. Thoughts of Minds and Molecules by H a r o l d J M o r o w i t z . p p 244. B e r k l e y B o o k s , N e w Y o r k . 1986. ISBN 0-425-09566-5 Like The Wine of Life that I reviewed five years ago (Biochem Educ 10, 117, 1982), this collection of fifty essays - - most of which were first published in the monthly medical journal Hospital Practice - - has magnetic qualities. Once I picked up a copy recently and started reading it, I became enthralled by the intellectual diversions with which Professor Horowitz regales his readers. His humor and deep understanding illuminate, often from several perspectives (scientific, historical, political, or human), the most mundane of objects or events he turns his attention to. The essay from which the book takes its name occurs in the first section which groups ten essays under the subheading "Some of our Trials about Evolution'. It learnedly describes the role of amphiphilic molecules 'in the salad days of our planet' while discussing possible origins of the word 'mayonnaise'. The five other sections group like essays on Medicine and Dentistry, Mind over Matter, Social Issues, Unusual Individuals and Their Work, and Science and Esthetics. This last section opens with 'Biochemistry is Beautiful' (who can disagree?) which offers some penetrating reflections on intermediary metabolism and the possible relationship between adenine in energy transfer and in genetic coding. From the 'case of endangered feces' (in Bird What?) and the meaninglessness of the third law of homeopathy or 'dilution increases efficacy' (in Much Ado about Nothing), to the analysis of James Joyce's understanding of thermodynamics (in Energy Flow in Ulysses) and how 'today's wonder bug entered human history in the messy diaper of a Munich infant' (in How E coli Got its Name), these short essays will captivate and inspire while informing and amusing. F Vella