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For nearly a quarter century Molecular Biology of the Cell has been the leading cell biology textbook. This tradition continues with the new Fifth Edition, which has been completely revised and updated to describe our current, rapidly advancing understanding of cell biology. To list but a few examples, a large amount of new material is presented on epigenetics; stem cells; RNAi; comparative genomics; the latest cancer therapies; apoptosis (now its own separate chapter); and cell cycle control and the mechanics of M phase (now integrated into one chapter).

The hallmark features of Molecular Biology of the Cell have been retained, such as its consistent and comprehensive art program, clear concept headings, and succinct section summaries. Additionally, in response to extensive feedback from readers, the Fifth Edition now includes several new features.

It is now more portable. Chapters 1-20 are printed and Chapters 21-25, covering multicellular systems, are provided as PDF files on the free Media DVD-ROM which accompanies the book.* And for the first time, Molecular Biology of the Cell now contains end-of-chapter questions. These problems, written by John Wilson and Tim Hunt, emphasize a quantitative approach and the art of reasoning from experiments, and they will help students review and extend their knowledge derived from reading the textbook. The Media DVD-ROM, which is packaged with every copy of the book, contains PowerPoint® presentations with all of the figures, tables and micrographs from the text (available as JPEGs too). Also included is the Media Player, which plays over 125 movies—animations, videos, and molecular models—all with voice-over narration. A new reader-friendly feature is the integration of media codes throughout the text that link directly to relevant videos and animations. The Media DVD-ROM holds the multicellular systems chapters (21-25) of the text as well.

By skillfully extracting the fundamental concepts from this enormous and ever-growing field, the authors tell the story of cell biology, and thereby create a coherent framework through which readers may approach and enjoy this subject that is so central to all of biology.

* There is also a reference edition of Molecular Biology of the Cell, Fifth Edition (ISBN 978-0-8153-4111-6) that contains Chapters 1-25 entirely in printed format.

The book contains both black-and-white and color illustrations.

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Editorial Reviews

From The Critics
Reviewer: Bruce A. Fenderson, PhD(Thomas Jefferson University)
Description: This is an exciting, comprehensive guide to the molecular and biochemical mechanisms that constitute life on earth. The wealth of information in this new fifth edition reflects a rapidly advancing field with close ties to evolutionary biology. The book is organized into five major sections such as basic genetic mechanisms and internal organization of the cell. Subjects range from membrane structure to the cell cycle. Chapters addressing cell social behavior (from sexual reproduction to development) are included along with illustrations and movies on a multimedia DVD-ROM.
Purpose: According to the authors, the purpose is "to give readers a conceptual framework for the mass of information that we now have about cells." Although the book is filled with facts, the authors hope that students will "learn how to put the facts to use - to reason, to predict, and to control the behavior of living systems.
Audience: The book is written for advanced undergraduates and graduate students taking a year-long course in cell biology. Faculty will appreciate access to electronic versions of the textbook figures and tables provided on the ancillary DVD. It will be appreciated by all students in the life sciences including those specializing in biophysics and bioengineering. The authors are outstanding investigators with traditions of excellence in teaching and research.
Features: This full color book expertly organizes our current understanding of cell biology and provides readers with insights into research methods. Every page is filled with colorful illustrations and tables that stimulate the reader's imagination. Side topics that fill an entire page are identified as panels. These color-coded pages are used to elucidate complex topics such as chemical formulas, research methods, or experimental results. The emphasis on research helps draw readers into the historical process of discovery. Boldface type identifies key words that are defined in the glossary at the end of the book. Each chapter includes a short list of self-assessment problems that are abstracted from a companion problems book (you have to buy the companion book to see the answers). Primary references are included to encourage further reading and scholarship. The authors frequently draw readers' attention to evolutionary principles and explore new concepts. For example, the first chapter includes a figure that highlights the times of divergence of different vertebrates. Similarly, the chapter on how cells read the genome includes a major section on the RNA world and origin of life. An excellent feature of this book is that the "H2 headers" are declarative statements (e.g. "All cells store their hereditary information in the same linear chemical code (DNA)."). Perusing these statements on the table of contents page provides an introduction to key concepts in cell biology. The DVD includes chapters on cells in their social context (from fertilization to adaptive immunity), as well as movies and electronic files of the illustrations. Access codes for these exciting learning resources are scattered throughout the book.
Assessment: This is an outstanding educational resource that will capture the attention of a wide range of students and faculty in the biomedical and life sciences. The authors organize our current understanding of cell biology, and hand this impressive body of knowledge onto the next generation of scholars. The fast pace of research in this field is clearly evident. Indeed, the idea that cells even exist and that they constitute the basic unit of life was proposed only 170 years ago! Today, we are teasing apart key signaling networks and learning how to redirect cellular differentiation. This fifth edition contains new information on comparative genomics, stem cell biology, and many other topics ranging from apoptosis to cancer. This is an outstanding core title in cell biology, expertly written and carefully edited. Readers are in for an inspiring and exciting journey.
Development (Company of Biologists)
It has been 25 years since the first edition of Molecular Biology of the Cell (MBoC) was published, which means that roughly half of today's practicing scientists do not remember life without this cell biology 'bible'. The other half might recall how the book almost instantly filled a void with refreshingly clear and engaging writing illustrated with extensive diagrams and figures . . . .MBoC has only improved over its several editions, growing with the rapid advances in the field to become an essential resource for students at all levels and a trusted first stop for researchers transitioning into unfamiliar areas of cell biology . . . .An enduring strength of the book is that it remains a comprehensive textbook . . . .In addition to the comprehensive updating of every chapter, another reason to consider acquiring edition five is the improved integration of the print volume with an extensive array of videos and animations in the 'Cell Biology Interactive' provided on the accompanying DVD . . . .Another welcome improvement in MBoC5 helps link the textbook to the lab - there are now problems printed at the ends of the first 20 chapters. Whereas some are designed to facilitate information retention, the best problems stimulate thought and challenge the reader to think about experimental approaches for learning new things about cell biology . . . .the MBoC5 package is a fantastic resource and well worth the upgrade.\
**** A big, beautiful (now in color throughout), up-to-date survey of cell biology for the introductory university course. The text is divided into four sections: introduction to the cell; molecular genetics; internal organization of the cell; and cells in their social context. Previous editions were published in 1983 (cited in BCL3) and 1989. The present edition is fully reorganized to reflect major advances in signal transduction, intracellular protein sorting, gene regulation, control of cell division, and developmental biology. It also adds new chapters on recombinant DNA techniques and on proteins as machines. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

5 Stars! from Doody
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780815341062
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 12/31/2007
  • Edition number: 5
  • Pages: 1392
  • Product dimensions: 8.30 (w) x 10.80 (h) x 1.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Bruce Alberts, is president of the National Academy of Sciences and chair of the National Research Council, the principal operating arm of the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering. He is a respected biochemist recognized for his work in both biochemistry and molecular biology and is known particularly for his extensive molecular analyses of the protein complexes that allow chromosomes to be replicated. Alberts joined the faculty of Princeton University in 1966 and after ten years moved to the medical school of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). In 1980, he was awarded an American Cancer Society lifetime research professorship. In 1985, he was named chair of the UCSF department of biochemistry and biophysics. Alberts is one of the principal authors of "The Molecular Biology of the Cell," now in its third edition, considered the leading advanced textbook in this field and used widely in U.S. colleges and universities. His most recent text, "Essential Cell Biology," is intended to present this subject matter to a wider audience. He is committed to the improvement of science education; he helped to create City Science, a program for improving science teaching in San Francisco elementary schools.
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1: The Evolution of the Cell

All living creatures are made of cells-small membrane-bounded compartments filled with a concentrated aqueous solution of chemicals. The simplest forms of life are solitary cells that propagate by dividing in two. Higher organisms, such as ourselves, are like cellular cities in which groups of cells perform specialized functions and are linked by intricate systems of communication. Cells occupy a halfway point in the scale of biological complexity. We study them to learn, on the one hand, how they are made from molecules and, on the other, how they cooperate to make an organism as complex as a human being.

All organisms, and all of the cells that constitute them, are believed to have descended from a common ancestor cell through evolution by natural selection. This involves two essential processes: (1) the occurrence of random variation in the genetic information passed from an individual to its descendants and (2) selection in favor of genetic information that helps its possessors to survive and propagate. Evolution is the central principle of biology, helping us to make sense of the bewildering variety in the living world.

This chapter, like the book as a whole, is concerned with the progression from molecules to multicellular organisms. It discusses the evolution of the cell, first as a living unit constructed from smaller parts and then as a building block for larger structures. Through evolution, we introduce the cell components and activities that are to be treated in detail, in broadly similar sequence, in the chapters that follow. Beginning with the origins of the first cell on earth, we consider how the properties of certaintypes of large molecules allow hereditary information to be transmitted and expressed and permit evolution to occur. Enclosed in a membrane, these molecules provide the essentials of a self-replicating cell. Following this, we describe the major transition that occurred in the course of evolution, from small bacteriumlike cells to much larger and more complex cells such as are found in present-day plants and animals. Lastly, we suggest ways in which single free-living cells might have given rise to large multicellular organisms, becoming specialized and cooperating in the formation of such intricate organs as the brain.

Clearly, there are dangers in introducing the cell through its evolution: the large gaps in our knowledge can be filled only by speculations that are liable to be wrong in many details. We cannot go back in time to witness the unique molecular events that took place billions of years ago. But those ancient events have left many traces for us to analyze. Ancestral plants, animals, and even bacteria are preserved as fossils. Even more important, every modern organism provides evidence of the character of living organisms in the past. Present-day biological molecules, in particular, are a rich source of information about the course of evolution, revealing fundamental similarities between the most disparate of living organisms and allowing us to map out the differences between them on an objective universal scale. These molecular similarities and differences present us with a problem like that which confronts the literary scholar who seeks to establish the original text of an ancient author by comparing a mass of variant manuscripts that have been corrupted through repeated copying and editing. The task is hard, and the evidence is incomplete, but it is possible at least to make intelligent guesses about the major stages in the evolution of living cells.

From Molecules to the First Cell 1

Simple Biological Molecules Can Form Under Prebiotic Conditions 1, 1 The conditions that existed on the earth in its first billion years are still a matter of dispute. Was the surface initially molten? Did the atmosphere contain ammonia, or methane? Everyone seems to agree, however, that the earth was a violent place with volcanic eruptions, lightning, and torrential rains. There was little if any free oxygen and no layer of ozone to absorb the ultraviolet radiation from the sun. The radiation, by its photochemical action, may have helped to keep the atmosphere rich in reactive molecules and far from chemical equilibrium. Simple organic molecules (that is, molecules containing carbon) are likely to have been produced under such conditions. The best evidence for this comes from laboratory experiments. If mixtures of gases such as COZ, CH4, NH3, and HZ are heated with water and energized by electrical discharge or by ultraviolet radiation, they react to form small organic molecules-usually a rather small selection, each made in large amounts (Figure 1-1). Among these products are compounds, such as hydrogen cyanide (HCN) and formaldehyde (HCHO), that readily undergo further reactions in aqueous solution (Figure 1-2). Most important, representatives of most of the major classes of small organic molecules found in cells are generated, including amino acids, sugars, and the purines and pyrimidines required to make nucleotides.

Although such experiments cannot reproduce the early conditions on the earth exactly, they make it plain that the formation of organic molecules is surprisingly easy. And the developing earth had immense advantages over any human experimenter; it was very large and could produce a wide spectrum of conditions. But above all, it had much more time-tens to hundreds of millions of years. In such circumstances it seems very likely that, at some time and place, many of the simple organic molecules found in present-day cells accumulated in high concentrations.

Complex Chemical Systems Can Develop in an Environment That Is Far from Chemical Equilibrium Simple organic molecules such as amino acids and nucleotides can associate to form polymers. One amino acid can join with another by forming a peptide bond, and two nucleotides can join together by a phosphodiester bond. The repetition of these reactions leads to linear polymers known as polypeptides and polynucleotides, respectively. In present-day living cells, large polyp eptides-known as proteins-and polynucleotides-in the form of both ribonucleic acids (RNA) and deoxyribonucleic acids (DNA)-are commonly viewed as the most important constituents. A restricted set of 20 amino acids constitute the universal building blocks of the proteins, while RNA and DNA molecules are constructed from just four types of nucleotides each. Although it is uncertain why these particular sets of monomers were selected for biosynthesis in preference to others that are chemically similar, we shall see that the chemical properties of the corresponding polymers suit them especially well for their specific roles in the cell.

The earliest polymers may have formed in any of several ways-for example, by the heating of dry organic compounds or by the catalytic activity of high concentrations of inorganic polyphosphates or other crude mineral catalysts. Under laboratory conditions the products of similar reactions are polymers of variable length and random sequence in which the particular amino acid or nucleotide added at any point depends mainly on chance (Figure 1-3). Once a polymer has formed, however, it can itself influence subsequent chemical reactions by acting as a catalyst.

The origin of life requires that in an assortment of such molecules there must have been some possessing, if only to a small extent, a crucial property: the ability to catalyze reactions that lead, directly or indirectly, to production of more molecules of the catalyst itself. Production of catalysts with this special self-promoting property would be favored, and the molecules most efficient in aiding their own production would divert raw materials from the production of other substances. In this way one can envisage the gradual development of an increasingly complex chemical system of organic monomers and polymers that function together to generate more molecules of the same types, fueled by a supply of simple raw materials in the environment. Such an autocatalytic system would have some of the properties we think of as characteristic of living matter: it would comprise a far from random selection of interacting molecules; it would tend to reproduce itself; it would compete with other systems dependent on the same feedstocks; and if deprived of its feedstocks or maintained at a wrong temperature that upsets the balance of reaction rates, it would decay toward chemical equilibrium and "die." But what molecules could have had such autocatalytic properties? In presentday living cells the most versatile catalysts are polypeptides, composed of many diff,prent amino acids with chemically diverse side chains and, consequently, able to adopt diverse three-dimensional forms that bristle with reactive sites. But although polypeptides are versatile as catalysts, there is no known way in which one such molecule can reproduce itself by directly specifying the formation of another of precisely the same sequence.

Polynucleotides Are Capable of Directing Their Own Synthesis 3

Polynucleotides have properties that contrast with those of polypeptides. They have more limited capabilities as catalysts, but they can directly guide the formation of exact copies of their own sequence...

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Table of Contents

Special Features
List of Topics
A Note to the Reader
Pt. I Introduction to the Cell
1 Cells and Genomes 3
2 Cell Chemistry and Biosynthesis 47
3 Proteins 129
Pt. II Basic Genetic Mechanisms
4 DNA and Chromosomes 191
5 DNA Replication, Repair, and Recombination 235
6 How Cells Read the Genome: From DNA to Protein 299
7 Control of Gene Expression 375
Pt. III Methods
8 Manipulating Proteins, DNA, and RNA 469
9 Visualizing Cells 547
Pt. IV Internal Organization of the Cell
10 Membrane Structure 583
11 Membrane Transport of Small Molecules and the Electrical Properties of Membranes 615
12 Intracellular Compartments and Protein Sorting 659
13 Intracellular Vesicular Traffic 711
14 Energy Conversion: Mitochondria and Chloroplasts 767
15 Cell Communication 831
16 The Cytoskeleton 907
17 The Cell Cycle and Programmed Cell Death 983
18 The Mechanics of Cell Division 1027
Pt. V Cells in their Social Context
19 Cell Junctions, Cell Adhesion, and the Extracellular Matrix 1065
20 Germ Cells and Fertilization 1127
21 Development of Multicellular Organisms 1157
22 Histology: The Lives and Deaths of Cells in Tissues 1259
23 Cancer 1313
24 The Adaptive Immune System 1363
25 Pathogens, Infection, and Innate Immunity 1423
Tables: The Genetic Code, Amino Acids
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