The nuts and bolts of biotechnology

The nuts and bolts of biotechnology

Book Reviews 3 and heme, and then disorders of the connective tissue, blood, metabolic transport, and immune and other systems. Although sequencing w...

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Book Reviews 3

and heme, and then disorders of the connective tissue, blood, metabolic transport, and immune and other systems. Although sequencing within a chapter varies, each begins with a crisp summary and contains a historical comment, the clinical and pathologic features of the disorder, the normal and abnormal metabolism related to the disease and its rare variations, and finally the genetics and treatment. Numerous fine figures are chiefly metabolic pathways with some clinical photographs. Especially engaging are the illustrations that divide sections; they are stylized pathways that make up in impact what they lack in detail. The complement, antigen, and antibody cartoon (p. 1919) is a memorable robot! What more could one want? There are excessive details concerning individual patients and disorders represented by just one or two individuals. Some chapters have too many references (1019 for the prophyrias). The traditional system of numbering glycogen storage diseases has been abandoned and some guidance is needed to relate past information to the new nomenclature by enzyme deficiency. In my special area of interest, there is little to be found concerning mechanisms of human carcinogenesis. The index does not list liver tumors (or its synonyms), which are important complications of various inborn errors of metabolism. I wonder if the next edition will include disorders of the xenobiotic metabolism as well as discussion of human oncogenes. Altogether, the first and older half of the book is too detailed, especially in contrast to the overly compressed treatment of the immune disorders, for example. Handsomely produced, I strained to find any production errors and found just a few typographical mistakes and a duplication of Table 14-I. The many modern typefaces are useful guides to the type of information contained. What if you have an earlier edition? You may be better off. Ten chapters are now just one- or two-page summaries that refer back to the full chapter in the prior edition! Perhaps those chapters deserved less emphasis, but should alkaptonuria have been completely dropped? It was one of Garrod’s first four inborn errors of metabolism.

John J. Mulvihill Clinical Epidemiology Branch National Cancer Institute Bethesda, Maryland 20205

The Nuts and Bolts of Biotechnology Genetic Engineering 4. Ediied by Ft. Williamson New York: Academic

Press. (1988). 185 pp. $22.00.

The editor has undertaken the ambitious goal of providing a “complete primer of recombinant DNA technology” in

four short paperback volumes. Such a challenge can be met only by carefully setting priorities for the methodologies that have developed over the past decade in the field, and succinctly describing what is chosen to be presented. Genetic Engineering 4 is largely successful in meeting these two criteria. The specific topics addressed in the three chapters of this volume are DNA engineering: the use of enzymes, chemicals, and oligonucleotides to restructure DNA sequences in vitro; recombinant DNA technology: application to the characterization and expression of polypeptide hormones; and expression of eucaryotic genes in E. coli. None of these chapters serves as a methods manual. Rather, they provide descriptive summaries of what has been done and where pitfalls may lie in recombinant DNA experimentation. The first chapter, by Ft. F. Lathe, J. P. Lecocq, and R. Everett, is on DNA engineering and gives a clear, detailed account of the nuts and bolts of the manipulation of DNA in vitro. The use of restriction enzymes and oligonucleotide linkers, adapters, and connectors is covered with sufficient background to provide an appreciation of the nucleic acid biochemistry that underlies the manipulations. The discussion is also useful in a practical sense, as technical problems that may be encountered are highlighted. Figures in this portion of the chapter are abundant, clear, and illustrative. This section is guilty of one error of omission; although ways to manipulate plasmids in vitro are described in detail, procedures for detecting clones containing suitably altered plasmids are not provided. For example, the use of insertional activation or nucleic acid hybridization to detect appropriate recombinant DNA molecules is not covered. In the real world of genetic engineering, in vitro manipulation and in vivo detection are inseparable procedures. The latter portion of Chapter One deals with localized mutagenesis. Methods to generate deletions and point mutations at defined sites are detailed The section on base substitution mutagenesis suffers from a curious lack of figures. Nevertheless, this section and the chapter as a whole present a clear, concise description of DNA engineering that should be illuminating for both the casual reader in the field and the expert. The second chapter on the cloning and expression of genes encoding peptide hormones, by R. K. Craig and L. Hall, begins with a rather static, insubstantial introduction to these hormones. It gathers momentum as it moves to a discussion of the isolation and identification of hormone mRNA, and reaches peak velocity in its description of cDNA synthesis and cloning, and screening of candidate clones. Specific examples from the literature are blended into a coherent how-to-do-it narrative. Finally, the chapter closes with a discussion of the expression of cloned hormone sequences in E. coli and eucaryotic cells, recounting the early successes of somatostatin, insulin, and growth hormone. The aficionados of genetic engineering will find the comprehensiveness of the chapter commendable, while the more general reader may find the writing turgid. The third and final chapter by T. J. R. Harris deals with

Cell 4

the expression of cloned eucaryotic genes in E. coli. The first section of the chapter summarizes transcription, translation, protein modification, and protein stability as they apply to E. coli genes and their products. From these considerations follow the recombinant DNA strategies employed to express eucaryotic genes in the bacterial host. Examples from the literature are organized around the bacterial promoter used to direct transcription. The writing is crisp, and the compendium of strategies and examples is the most extensive that this reader has seen. Most useful is a table listing over 50 examples of eucaryotic genes that have been expressed in E. coli, the promoter used for expression, the nature of the product produced (fused to bacterial polypeptides or unfused proteins), and the level of expression observed. On this last point, the chapter was mildly disappointing in its omission of methods used to detect and quantitate eucaryotic products in E. coli. Also, although the striking observation that many eucaryotic genes are expressed at only very low levels in E. coli is briefly discussed, no real insights into this problem are provided. The strengths of this chapter lie in the logical presentation of current strategies, and the extensive coverage of relevant work. The description of the expression of hormones, unfortunately, overlaps with that in Chapter Two. Very little attention is given to hosts other than E. coli, such as yeast or gram positive bacteria. (Genetic Engineering 3 discusses the expression of cloned genes in animal cells.) Overall, the clarity of writing and comprehensiveness of Genetic Engineering 4 are up to the high standards established in the first three volumes. Although Volume 4 has some overlap with previous volumes on the subjects of restriction enzymes, cDNA cloning, and expression of cloned genes, the bulk of the material is new and up-todate. Genetic Engineering 4 by itself is an extremely useful reference book on the specific topics covered. As a part of the Genetic Engineering series, Genetic Engineering 4 ensures the goal of its editor “to give a complete primer of recombinant DNA technology.”

lecting marine organisms to capture illuminating stages of development. Pleasant as this setting is for studying developmental biology, the authors of this volume recognize that it is a luxury for many, and that fresh water invertebrates are highly suited to developmental studies. This book is intended to accompany a invertebrate develop mental biology course based on fresh water organisms and the soil nematode Caenorhabditis. Each chapter is organized around a different organism: sponges, medusae, turbellarians planaria, schistosomes, Tubifex, leeches, tardigrades, gastropods, cyclopoids, and bryozoans. Each chapter includes the necessary technical insignts for collecting and maintaining adults and embryos in the laboratory, and features appropriate methods of preservation. The relevant stages of development for most of the organisms are covered in detail, with extensive references. In addition to the abundant scientific details that make this a useful adjunct to an embryological text, it also includes the practical details of how to collect organisms, how to ship cysts and have them survive, and the other niggling details that make such studies possible but which are rarely transmitted in print. It would thus be a helpful introduction to a large range of developmental systems, and would indeed make a delightful embr-yological course, even if there were no sea gulls in the background.

Alice Fulton The University of Iowa College of Medicine Department of Biochemistry Iowa City, Iowa 52242

Books Received

Aldrich, H. C., and Danrel, J. W., eds. (1982). Cell Ekology of Physarum and Dicfymium. Volume I. New York: Academic Press. 444 pp. $55.00.

Leonard Guarente

Aldnch, H. C.. and Daniel, J. W.. eds. (1982). and Didymun. Volume II. New York: Academrc

Department of Biology Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139

Alora. Ft. C., ed. (1982). Membrane Fluidity in Brology. Volume I. Concepts of Membrane Structure. New York: Academrc Press. 328 pp. $43.00.

Joy of Developmental Biology Developmental Biology of Fresh Water Invertebrates. Edited by F. W. Harrison and R. R. Cowden. New York: Allen R. Liss, Inc. (1982). $72.00.

One of the joys of developmental biology is spending sunny July days at the Marine Biological Laboratory col-

Cell Biology of Physarum Press. 373 pp. $52.00.

Angel, A., Hollenberg, C. H., and Roncari, D. A. K., eds. (1983). The Adrpocyte and Obestty: Cellular and Molecular Mechanisms. New York: Raven Press. 317 pp. $35.00 Cheung, W. Y., ed. (1983). Calcium and Cell Functron. Press. 502 pp. $64.00. Crvan, M. M. (1983). Eprthelral Ions and Transport. & Sons, Inc. 204 pp. $59.95.

New York: Academic New York: John Wiley

Clark, W. Ft. (1983). The Expenmental Foundations of Modern Immunology. New York: John Wrley & Sons, Inc. 453 pp. $27.95. Cold Spring Harbor Symposia on Quantitatjve Biology. Structures of DNA. Volume 47. (1983). Cold Spring Harbor, New York: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. 1234 pp., Z-book set. $140.00. Damjanov, I., Knowles, B. B., and Salter. D., ecs. (1983). The Human Teratomas. Experimental and Clinical Biology. Clifton, New Jersey: The Humana Press. Inc. 376 pp. $49.50.