April 1979 Vol. 7 No. 2
Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Problems and Applications By D a v i d F r i e f e l d e r . Pp 308. W . H. F r e e m a n C o m p a n y , S a n F r a n c i s c o , 1978. Softcover, £4.10.
Topics in Antibiotic Chemistry, Volume II and
This book of problems is a companion to molecular biology. It consists of 17 short chapters, each followed by references and a large n u m b e r (between 21) and 90) of problems, six appendices of data, a glossary of terms, answers to the problems and indices. It is designed to be used in conjunction with other textbooks and a library. Different problems are both quantitative and discursive. The topics covered in the book include all three parts of the subject of molecular biology, macromolecular structure, molecular genetics and the biochemistry of nucleic acid metabolism and protein biosynthesis. The only obvious omission is recombinant DNA methodology. Also examples of the uses of hybridization are rather sparse. RoT and Dot curves are not included. Overall this is an excellent book. It is a valuable source of material for university teachers and would be a particularly useful acquisition for anyone teaching himself molecular biology. By the writing of this book, Professor Freifelder has added considerably to his growing reputation for using his many research contributions as a foundation for the writing of readable and useful textbooks. J. H. Parish
The Genesis of Diversity By B r y a n S h o r r o c k s . Pp 152. H o d d e r a n d S t o u g h t o n , L o n d o n a n d T o r o n t o , 1978. B o a r d s , £ 5 . 7 5 ; p a p e r b a c k , £2.95. At first sight the theory of evolution brought about by a struggle for life suggests that evolution should only occur when there is intraspecific competition and that in any group of organisms individuals should be more or less genetically invariant. Neither of these inferences is borne out by the facts, hence the need to study the genesis of diversity. This book is a short and workmanlike review of the elements of the mechanisms of evolution in animals. It starts with Darwin, goes on to a very brief account of genes and chromosomes and then settles down to six chapters on theoretical and practical aspects of gene frequency change. The last two bhapters discuss the causes of polymorphism and the formation of new species. The examples used are well known ones, with an emphasis on Drosophila, the author's own field of study. Population genetics and ecology are still often taught in isolation from each other although they deal with the same or closely related problems. The value of this book is that ecological ideas and examples are integrated with the genetic ones as they should be, and not treated as separate entities. It should prove a useful outline for biology students taking courses in ecology, population genetics or evolution. Has it a place on a biochemist's bookshelf? If so, I think it would be as an account of the preoccupations of another group of biologists sharing a c o m m o n concern with the evolution of organisms. Academic disciplines soon become conservative. Ecologists and geneticists often fail to speak to each other: for a m u c h longer time there has been divergence between botanical and zoological thinking on evolution (and zoologists are inclined to forget the prokaryotes). In the late 1960s the reasons mutations might be neutral, the disadvantages for the population if they were not and the apparent concordance between mutation rate and the rate of evolution were all discussed in the context of molecular biology. Identical arguments had been put forward by J. B. S. Haldane some fifteen years before using examples from living and fossil animals. All of us may benefit from access to brief digests of what the others are up to, and Shorrock's book could usefully fill that niche. L. M. Cook Department of Zoology University of Manchester Manchester, M13 9PL, U.K.
E d i t e d by P e t e r S a m m e s . Pp 283. P u b l i s h e d by Ellis H o r w o o d L t d , C h i c h e s t e r , U . K . a n d d i s t r i b u t e d by J o h n W i l e y a n d S o n s , C h i c h e s t e r a n d N e w Y o r k . 1978. £ 1 7 . 5 0 . Scientists wishing to keep abreast with recent advances in the field of antibiotics research will find Volume II of 'Topics in Antibiotic Chemistry' a most useful addition to their collection of reference books. In general, the book will appeal mainly to organic chemists and is divided into four sections: Antibiotics from Marine Organisms, Oligosaccharide Antibiotics, Daunomycin and Related Antibiotics and the last part of the book deals with the Interactions of Daunomycin-related antibiotics with Biological Receptors. The first review deals very concisely with antibiotics that have been isolated from marine organisms. Bearing in mind their past record, one does not usually think of marine organisms as a rich source of useful antibiotics, but this apart, the review is useful and well worth reading. The author describes the increasingly diverse range of antibacterial metabolities that has been isolated from: Marine Micro-organisms, Sponges, Coelenterates, Molluscs and Algae in recent years. Unfortunately details regarding the potency and the spectum of antibacterial activity of many of the compounds described are rather scanty due mainly to the absence of such information from the literature. The second part (B) of the book is an excellent review of the oligosaccharide antibiotics, which include the everninomycins, curamycins, avilamycins and flambamycins. Structurally, these compounds are made up of unusual carbohydrate units linked together via glycosidic and ortho-ester linkages. The elegant and impresive structural elucidation work performed by Dr Ganguly's group at Schering on the everninomycin complex is very well documented in the review and it also includes in less detail the current state of research on the related oligosaccharide antibiotics. There are also short sections on the biological activities and structure-activity relationships found in the everninomycin group. A clinically important group of anti-tumour antibiotics, namely the anthracyclines, e.g. adriamycin and daunomycin, is reviewed in depth in the third and final sections of the book. Part C is mainly chemical in content dealing comprehensively with such topics as structural interrelationships within the group, chemical degradation studies, total synthesis of both aglycone and carbohydrate moieties of these molecules and procedures for coupling the structure units together. Methods of studying the interaction between this class of compound with DNA are described and there are also sections on drug and metabolism studies and structure-activity relationships. The review is most informative and has a good reference section. The final part (D) of this book deals with the interaction between the anthracycline antibiotics and their target receptor in cells, DNA. The changes in the physical properties of double-stranded DNA that occur on complexation with anthracyclines are clearly summarized together with the results from drug-DNA binding studies. These sections set the stage for a discussion of the X-ray crystallographic investigations of the drug-DNA complexes which suggest that the tight binding of the anthracylines to DNA depends primarily on an intercalative interaction of the drug chromophore with the stacked base pairs of the polynucleotide. The importance of the free amino group of the sugar moiety of the anthracyclines in their interaction with DNA is strongly emphasized. This review is well illustrated with a variety of structural representations of the anthracyclines, both free and in association with DNA. To sum up, in addition to the sections devoted to the therapeutically important anthracyclines, the book provides valuable reviews of some less familiar areas of antibiotic research, and it can be strongly recommended as a reference work for antibiotic specialists. D. H. Davies and T. J. Franklin Biochemistry Department Pharmaceuticals Division, I.C.I. Alderley Park, Cheshire, U.K.