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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Caryl Ann Forristall, Ph.D.(University of Redlands)
Description: The vertebrate cranial placodes are embryonic structures that give rise to some of the sensory organs and cranial ganglia. This book describes the embryonic development of these structures and discusses recent advances in our understanding of the molecules involved in their development.
Purpose: The authors have written a review of the current state of our knowledge of the development of the cranial placodes. This book focuses on a summary of the transcription factors active in placodes. It also reviews studies on the role of signaling molecules in the induction and segregation of cranial placodes. This information will be useful for other researchers in the field.
Audience: This is written for graduate students, scientists and clinicians interested in the development of sensory organs and cranial ganglia. This book assumes little knowledge of cranial placodes but requires familiarity with the concepts and mechanisms of developmental biology. The authors are developmental biologists studying the molecular basis of placode development in the African clawed frog, Xenopus laevis, and are thus writing as experts in the field.
Features: The text begins with a good description of the development of the cranial placodes and their derivatives, including recent research describing their common origin in the pre-placodal region. It continues with a chapter devoted to the roles of transcription factors, especially the Six, Eya and Pax gene families, in the specification of placode identity. A major focus of this chapter is a series of tables describing the timing of expression of many of these genes in zebrafish, frog, chick, and mouse. The last chapter of the book is a discussion of the possible molecules by which cells within the pre-placodal region are induced to form the different placodes. The roles of Bmp, FGF and Wnt are highlighted. The book ends with an extensive reference section.
Assessment: This book is essentially a scientific review, in both content and writing style. The background material on placode development and the reference section will be useful reading for those interested in an overview of the topic, whether they are beginning research in this field or simply have an interest in these structures. The information on the molecules involved will be most interesting to those doing research. The authors have compiled data from many laboratories to create the tables of transcription factor activity, and researchers interested in using a comparative approach to understand the role of these molecules may find this useful. Likewise, those who desire to study the interactions of these molecules within a particular placode will also appreciate this compilation. The chapter on signaling molecules frames the questions well, but does not give an extensive summary of the current data. Both of these chapters describe data rather than propose hypotheses based on the data. Therefore, casual readers will come away with an appreciation for the complexity of the molecular interactions involved in the development of these structures, but only researchers in the field will be interested in the specifics.