Human virology a text for students of dentistry and microbiology

Human virology a text for students of dentistry and microbiology

222 Basic Protein and Peptide Protocols E d i t e d by J M W a l k e r . p p 512. H u m a n a Press, T o t o w a , N e w J e r s e y . 1994. $59.50 I...

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Basic Protein and Peptide Protocols E d i t e d by J M W a l k e r . p p 512. H u m a n a Press, T o t o w a , N e w J e r s e y . 1994. $59.50 ISBN 0-89603-269-8 This volume is a very useful addition to the Methods in Molecular Biology series (Vol 32) and should be found a home in any laboratory involved in protein analysis. The format is very convenient, providing a useful theoretical introduction to each technique, summary of the practical details for its use, additional notes and tips on using the technique and a selection of references. A wide range of everyday techniques is covered, providing a thorough background (both theoretical and practical) for anyone entering the field of protein science and introducing alternative techniques to those who wish to try new methods. Although there is an element of personal preference in the techniques described, with some common variants being omitted (eg sulphorhodamine staining of blots), it is clear that the majority of methods described are those used most frequently. Further volumes in this series will tackle more advanced techniques, including amino acid sequencing and mass spectrometry. There is only a limited amount of information relating to the preparation of material for these applications, eg peptide generation from proteins, but these procedures are sure to be dealt with in greater detail in appropriate future volumes. These promise to provide an invaluable up-to-date library of techniques available for the analysis of proteins. J Keen

Human Virology A Text for Students of Dentistry and Microbiology b y L C o l l i e r a n d J O x f o r d . p p 398. O x f o r d U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , O x f o r d . 1993. £18.50 ISBN 0-19-2616612-5 The subtitle of this book explains precisely its intended audience and the authors admit that it is not their aim to try to turn its readers into virologists. Rather, they say, they provide information on a 'need to know basis'. 'Need to know' to pass examinations is one reason, but another is that this book does indeed offer an accessible source of information about (medically-important) viruses. The authors also remind us that virology is very fluid and very topical. Not long ago we did not have AIDS or BSE: now it is difficult to pick up a newspaper without reading about them. The book is divided into four Parts, dealing with (1) General Principles, (2) Specific Infections, (3) Special Syndromes, and (4) Practical Aspects. Part (4) is quite brief and Part (2) makes up the major part of the text (200 pages), and is a list. As a biochemist I reflected that it was probably good memory training for medical students to have to remember metabolic pathways. This succession of chapters in Part (2) is one virus after another with little to connect them. This is an exaggeration, of course, but to remember this lot, the symptoms, the treatment, the prognosis, etc, is a major undertaking, but some familiarity is probably important to most general medics. The first part of the book deals with what we might call the general biology of viruses and this, of course, includes pathogenicity, immunology, cancer and epidemiology. This section contains many clear and excellent diagrams, although some of them were too complicated to stand alone. For example, the fullpage interferon chart (p 70) is incomprehensible without closely following the text. This part of the book would, by itself, provide a very thorough introduction to virology. This little bit of history and case studies make it the more interesting. BIOCHEMICAL

EDUCATION

22(4) 1994

It is instructive to consider the educational aspect of the book. The lay-out is spacious with a common chapter format throughout. There is an abundance of subheadings and sometimes these head very short pieces of text. This certainly makes finding specific topics very easy. If you want to know the possible complications of measles, it is very simple to find them. At the end of each chapter is a sort of summary entitled 'Reminders' with half a dozen points to be remembered(?) from the chapter. I found most of the text easy to read, and reflecting on what you might catch, extremely absorbing. I would be less happy at having to try to remember all this. Most of the electron micrographs were of good quality and in addition there is a good range of clinical pictures that make the point very clearly. Overall it represents a very polished performance and can be recommended. The price is reasonable. E J Wood

Essays in Biochemistry Volume 28 E d i t e d b y K F T i p t o n . p p 185. P o r t l a n d Press, L o n d o n . 1994. £15/$30 ISBN 1-85578-016-X

Essays is an annual publication, but has changed from its early days when each volume contained a few long reviews, to the present 'new format' containing ten shorter reviews. The reviews cover a wide range of toics, and it has to be said that the current volume contains mostly biochemistry and very little molecular biology. (This is not a criticism, simply a statement of fact.) The reviews in this issue encompass metabolic control, HMGC o A synthase, motor neurone disease, carnitine, folate/B~2, protein kinase inhibitors, mitochondrial D N A and disease, PIGtailed proteins, horseradish peroxidase, and the renin-angiotensin system. Each review is 10-15 pages long and is written by experts in the field. Inevitably, an annual collection cannot be so up to date as the monthly (or less) reviews that appear in the BJ, JBC, TIBS etc, but nonetheless the collection is interesting and valuable, and is priced reasonably. Obviously there have been significant changes in, for example, motor neurone disease and mitochondrial D N A since the chapters were written. Writing about protein kinases is also hazardous because the picture changes week by week. I found the motor neurone chapter and that on mitochondrial D N A diseases chapters very fascinating, would have liked to see something about H M G - C o A reductase inhibitors, and found the metabolic control chapter fairly hard going. (Would the editor have been well advised to start with a chapter that was more user-friendly?) Although the authors of this chapter begin by emphasising the importance of the difference between 'regulation' and 'control', I do not think they really give a clear definition of these words. I do not think the editor has been well-served by the printer/ typesetter in respect of chemical formulae. Some are wrong (see p 51 and 67) and many are either gauche or the 'wrong" size. It is presumably a fault of the British school system that most children are turned out without the faintest idea of organic chemistry and that printers are chosen from this group. It is a pity when many of us at university level are struggling to insist that living things work by chemistry and that rigorous organic chemistry enables much (if not all) of life to be understood. In contrast, most of the diagrams are good and very clear (two colour). Reading lists are most 15-35 references long, but a few are very short and some authors offer 'further reading' reviews. Overall this represents an interesting collection to dip into and will be of value to undergraduates needing information to write essays and post-graduates and others wanting to get a start in new fields, as well as lecturers wanting to update their knowledge. E J Wood