MOLECULAR CELL BIOLOGY
James DarneD, Harvey Lodish and David Baltimore.
Freeman (Scientific American Books), New York, 1986.
1222 pp., illus.
Molecular Cell Biology is a gigantic new textbook attempting to integrate molecular and cellular bioscience into a "new biology."
The book's 25 chapters are divided into four groups. The first group discusses research history, chemical molecules, biochemical metabolism, cytology, subcellular organelles, research models and tools, and basic procedures for experimental molecular genetics. The second group deals with the structure, replication and expression of genes.
The third group features traditional aspects of cell structure and function (membranes, cytoskeleton, cell-cell interactions, bioelectrical activities and energy conversions); an excellent chapter on protein dynamics, organelle assembly and secretion concludes this part. The final group explores cell specificity, cancer, immunology and evolution in great detail.
The book will inevitably be compared with the excellent Molecular Biology of the Cell by Alberts et al. (Garland, New York, 1983), not least because of superficial similarities-each has a shiny black cover with a spectacular light microscope image, a large size, many illustrations, an extensive index and about 1,200 pages. Each conveys enthusiasm for its subject and covers a! most everything of importance; moreover, the organization of the books is amazingly similar.
Molecular Cell Biology presents the results of several additional years of research (e.g., oncogenes are covered in great depth); in addition, the book is commendable for featuring names of research scientists and for explicitly recognizing the relationship of its subject to human pathobiology.
On the less good side, the book doesn't seem to recognize the existence of such common terms as "nuclear envelope" and "plasma-lemma" and such controversial subjects as GERL and the genesis of coated vesicles from coated pits, and many of its micrographs are too small to be useful.
The book is intended as a text-book for a one-year course, but because some material (e.g., that on plant cells) is scattered throughout the book it will be difficult for teachers and students to pick those portions of the book that are relevant for a one-semester course or for more traditional courses on either the molecular or the cellular areas of biology. Nevertheless, the book successfully fuses cell biology with modern molecular genetics. I suspect that many students and teachers will find its step-by-step approach to be a stimulating guide to genes and cells in today's biology.
W. H. Massover is associate processor of anatomy, UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, Newark, NJ 07103.