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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Bruce A. Fenderson, PhD (Thomas Jefferson University)
Description: Complex signaling networks regulate key biological processes including metabolism, differentiation, cell division, and cell motility. This book provides an exciting, up-to-date introduction to the world of structure and function in signal transduction. To give the book a narrative, the author has focused on 7-pass and single-pass receptor signaling systems that regulate metabolism and cell cycle progression. Many cellular proteins are linked functionally as environmental discriminators (receptors) and signal transducers (e.g., G proteins) that convey information to downstream effectors (enzymes and mechanical devices). The author breaks down volumes of detailed information into basic mechanisms. The book includes 10 major sections ranging from protein modules and motifs to single-pass growth factor receptors to cell cycle control. The focus of the book is structural biology, protein biochemistry and biophysics.
Purpose: The author's stated goal is to "break signaling down into common elements and activities...the nuts and bolts of cellular information exchange." The author is clearly an expert who has thought deeply about signaling pathways and the molecular mechanisms that are involved. The emphasis on molecular models encourages readers to use protein sequence data to generate structural information, and inculcate lifelong learning skills.
Audience: The book is written for students across a wide range of life science disciplines including cell/developmental biology, biochemistry, physiology, molecular biology, x-ray crystallography (structural biology), molecular biology, and biophysics. It would be a great textbook to accompany an advanced undergraduate or graduate-level course in protein biochemistry, cell signaling, or protein structure and function. Experts will also appreciate this review of the field.
Features: The author explains and teaches — from historical accounts to cutting-edge research. Each section includes a summary and concludes with an extensive list of references. His focus is on G proteins, second messengers, kinases, and phosphatases. The author employs molecular models that are generated using the freeware program, RasMol. Brilliant, full-color images identify molecular details relating to polypeptide chain folding, phosphylation, and catalysis. The first chapter lays out a foundation for signaling systems. An appendix includes problem sets with answers, as well as step-by-step instructions for installation and use of RasMol molecularly rendering software (freely available online). Using RasMol, it is possible to examine how proteins interact, bind ligands, and change shape.
Assessment: The author focuses on individual proteins, as if he knows them by name and understands the inner mechanics of their behavior. From basics to details, this is an elegantly written and carefully edited book. The chapters on cell cycle control and oncogenesis are particularly fascinating and valuable to biomedical research. This is the book to have if you are interested in molecular mechanisms of signal transduction. It is a great introduction to the literature that will be welcomed by students and experts alike. The author helps organize molecular details to illustrate basic mechanisms of cellular information exchange and processing — mechanisms that are critical for life.