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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Eugene A Davidson, PhD (Georgetown University School of Medicine)
Description: This book offers a set of articles about the signaling properties of several gaseous molecules. Nitric oxide is well known; the others generally less familiar.
Purpose: The goal is to provide a comprehensive review of the state of research in the area of gaseous signaling molecules. Given the wide ranging activities of these modulators, this is an important contribution. The coverage is thorough and goals well met.
Audience: The target audience will include investigators, research fellows, and faculty responsible for teaching in this area. The editor is a recognized authority and has assembled a strong group of authors.
Features: The recognition of nitric oxide as a molecule with regulatory roles changed the view of many with regard to signaling pathways. This book reviews the properties of that molecule (biosynthesis, chemical properties, signaling targets) as well as two close cousins — carbon monoxide and hydrogen sulfide. It is noteworthy that the latter two species have been generally regarded as highly toxic (they are) and among the least likely candidates for normal cellular roles. Most of the actions of these "gasotransmitters" center on ion channels — sodium, potassium and calcium — and clearly have potentially major effects on their targets. An important issue relates to the mechanism of action of each, including the potential for direct chemical modification (nitrosylation, for example) of proteins. The initial chapters provide an overview of the field of gaseous signaling; these are followed by major sections devoted to each of the three. The accompanying bibliographies for each chapter are extensive and provide ample reference to original sources. Laboratories working in almost any area of signal transduction will want to have information regarding this new class of cellular second messengers — a need well served by this book.
Assessment: Although I was aware of the role of nitric oxide, I was unfamiliar with the role of the other molecules covered in this book. I found this to be an important contribution and it is worthwhile reading for most cell biologists and those studying regulation of cellular activities.