Essential Cell Biology: An Introducton to the Molecular Biology of the Cell / Edition 1

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This volume is the work of the same exceptional team who wrote the groundbreaking and universally acclaimed text Molecular Biology of the Cell, now in its Third Edition. Essential Cell Biology was written in response to many professors who expressed a need for an introductory textbook for undergraduates that was not as difficult as texts for advanced undergraduate and graduate students. In Essential Cell Biology, early chapters review basic concepts in chemistry and biochemistry to provide the necessary understanding of the essential processes and mechanisms covered later in the text. The full-color schematics have been meticulously constructed specifically for students taking a basic course.

Essential Cell Biology has been carefully geared to introductory students, without any sacrifice of scientific rigor. The book's conceptual approach, in which the essential facts are presented in their biological context, is ideal for engaging and motivating students new to molecular and cell biology. The book is written especially for undergraduates in biological sciences, but its content can be easily understood and absorbed by advanced secondary school students who need a basic introduction to the essential topics in modern biology.

"...This new work is by the same exceptional team that wrote the acclaimed text, Molecular Biology of the Cell...explains cell biology at a level that is easy to grasp for students with a minimal knowledge of biology."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780815320456
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 7/1/1997
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 764
  • Product dimensions: 8.60 (w) x 11.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Bruce Alberts received his Ph.D. from Harvard University and spent 30 years as a professor of biochemistry - first at Princeton University and then at the University of California, San Francisco. He currently serves as President of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C.

Dennis Bray received his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is currently a Medical Research Council Fellow in the Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge.

Alexander Johnson received his Ph.D. from Harvard University and is currently Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of California, San Francisco. His laboratory studies the mechanics by which cells regulate expression of their genes and the molecular biology of human fungal pathogens.

Julian Lewis received his D.Phil. from the University of Oxford and is currently a Senior Scientist at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund.

Martin Raff received his M.D. from McGill University and is currently a Professor at the MRC Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology and the Biology Department, University College London.

Keith Roberts received his Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge and is currently Associate Research Director at the John Innes Centre, Norwich.

Peter Walker received his Ph.D. from The Rockefeller University and is currently an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco.

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Read an Excerpt

During Muscle Contraction Actin Filaments Slide Against Myosin Filaments

Muscle contraction is the most familiar and the best understood of animal cell movements. In vertebrates, running, walking, swimming, and flying all depend on the ability of skeletal muscle to contract strongly and move various bones. Involuntary movements such as heart pumping and gut peristalsis depend on cardiac muscle and smooth muscle, respectively, which are formed from muscle cells with a different structure from skeletal muscle, but which use actin and myosin in a similar way to contract.

The long fibers of skeletal muscle are huge single cells formed during development by the fusion of many separate smaller cells. The individual nuclei of the contributing cells are retained in the muscle fiber and lie just beneath the plasma membrane. The bulk of the cytoplasm is made up of myofibrils, the contractile elements of the muscle cell. These cylindrical structures are 1-2 gm in diameter and may be as long as the muscle cell itself (Figure 16-34A).

A myofibril consists of a chain of identical tiny contractile units, or sarcomeres. Each sarcomere is about 2.5 gm long, and in a chain, their regular pattern gives the vertebrate myofibril a striped, or striated, appearance (Figure 16-34B). Sarcomeres are highly organized assemblies of two types of filaments-actin filaments and filaments of musclespecific myosin-II. Myosin filaments (the thick filaments) are centrally positioned in each sarcomere, whereas the thinner actin filaments (the thin filaments) extend inward from each end of the sarcomere (where they are anchored by their plus ends to a structure known as the Z disc) and overlap the ends of the myosin filaments (Figure 16-35).

The contraction of a muscle cell is caused by a simultaneous shortening of all the sarcomeres, which in turn is caused by the actin filaments sliding past the myosin filaments with no change in the length of either type of filament (Figure 16-36). The sliding motion is generated by myosin heads that project from the sides of the myosin filament and interact with adjacent actin filaments. When a muscle is stimulated to contract, the myosin heads start to walk along the actin filament in repeated cycles of attachment and detachment; their combined action pulls the actin and myosin filaments past each other, causing the sarcomere to contract. After a contraction is completed, the myosin heads lose contact with the actin filaments completely, and the muscle relaxes.

During each cycle of attachment and detachment, a myosin head binds and hydrolyzes one molecule of ATP This is thought to cause a series of conformational changes in the myosin molecule that move the tip of the head by about 5 nanometers along the actin filament toward the plus end. This movement, repeated with each round of ATP hydrolysis, propels the myosin molecule unidirectionally along the actin filament (Figure 16-37). In so doing, the myosin heads pull against the actin filament, causing it to slide against the myosin filament. Each myosin filament has about 300 myosin heads; each myosin head can cycle about five times per second, sliding the myosin and actin filaments past one another at a speed of up to 15 ~tm per second. This speed is sufficient to take a sarcomere from a fully extended state (3 gym) to a fully contracted state (2 pm) in less than a tenth of a second. All of the sarcomeres of a muscle are coupled together and are triggered almost instantaneously by the system of signals described in the following section. Therefore, the entire muscle contracts extremely rapidly, usually within a tenth of a second.

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction to Cells 2. Chemical Components of Cells 3. Energy, Catalysis, and Biosynthesis 4. Protein Structure and Function 5. DNA and Chromosomes 6. DNA Replication, Repair and Recombination 7. From DNA to Protein: How Cells Read the Genome 8. Control of Gene Expression 9. How Genes and Genomes Evolve 10. Manipulating Genes and Cells 11. Membrane Structure 12. Membrane Transport 13. How Cells Obtain Energy from Food 14. Energy Generation in Mitochondria and Chloroplasts 15. Intracellular Compartments and Transport
16. Cell Communication 17. Cytoskeleton 18. Cell-Cycle Control and Cell Death 19. Cell Division 20. Genetics, Meiosis, and the Molecular Basis of Heredity 21. Tissues and Cancer

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2003

    cells are #1

    I think that cells need to be the mane things on books. I think people need to learn more about cells.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2001

    Can be improved

    This is book is written in simple language and thats great. But it does not cover all the concepts that are 'Essential' for cell biology. Like the section on development is so poorly dealt that it does not even go to the extent of explaining the fusion of sperm and egg which is the basis of life. I think the book needs to be revised and details need to be added to give a complete picture of the essentials of cell biology

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2001

    An Excellent book

    I have to admit, my cell and molecular bio professor is less than perfect. He often skips over key concepts in his lectures and moves a little faster than my classmates and I would like. This book certainly makes up for the tremendous gap between what is required to be known in the class and what is taught by the teacher. The point of this message is that you should not feel at all bad about spending 65 dollars on this book if it is required for a class of yours, or even if it isn't. If you read it thoroughly, you will have no trouble understanding key concepts of cell and molecular biology required for many undergraduate level courses.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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