Biochemistry, an introductory textbook

Biochemistry, an introductory textbook

4o2 ~OOK REVIEWS Biochemistry, An Introductory Textbook, Inc., VOL. 1 9 11956) b y F . HAUROWlTZ, J o h n Wiley and Sons, N e w Y o r k , 1 9 5...

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Biochemistry, An Introductory Textbook,


VOL. 1 9 11956)

b y F . HAUROWlTZ, J o h n

Wiley and Sons,

N e w Y o r k , 1 9 5 5 , x v i + 485 p a g e s , 59 figs., S 6.75.

At last a book has alighted on our desk for which we have been waiting a long time, namely a book of restricted dimensions in which the f u n d a m e n t a l s of biochemistry are clearly and concisely exposed. I t s language is c o m m e n d a b l y plain, which will encourage s t u d e n t s w h o are still unfamiliar w i t h biochemistry to get to grips with this subject. Although, according to the foreword, it is primarily intended for seniors and g r a d u a t e s t u d e n t s majoring in bacteriology, botany, chemistry, physiology or zoology, I a m convinced it will also be employed with profit by medical students. In several respects this book departs from the conventional p a t t e r n of the more elaborate textbooks. After a brief introduction and m e n t i o n of some indispensable principles of physical c h e m i s t r y in a m a n n e r j u s t sufficient to b r u s h up previously acquired knowledge, the m e c h a n i s m of biochemical reactions is discussed. Thereupon the different types of c o m p o u n d s : carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, etc. are treated. I n this t r e a t m e n t a discussion of chemistry (only the bare essentials) and metabolism of each class of c o m p o u n d s are happily combined in one chapter. The principal m e t h o d s of determination are aIso included. The book concludes with chapters on enzymes, energy balances and nutrition, and h u m a n biochemistry, the latter containing a collection of facts t h a t had not yet found a place in preceding chapters. Tastes differ and so u p o n perusal of this book one is sometimes inclined to wonder w h e t h e r certain m a t t e r s have been presented to their best advantage. For instance, the question m a y be p u t w h e t h e r it is desirable, as HAUROWITZ has done, to let the synthesis of the several t y p e s of c o m p o u n d s precede a discussion of their breakdown, instead of the other way round. I t seams easier to c o m p r e h e n d the p a t h w a y s of synthesis when one is already acquainted with the p a t h w a y s of breakdown. F u r t h e r , is there a n y a d v a n t a g e in the early mention of the citric acid cycle as a biochemical mechanism, out of c o n t e x t of c a r b o h y d r a t e (and fat) metabolism ? Some subjects tend to be r a t h e r scattered over ditlferent chapters. This applies to the enzymes in particular. T h e y are barely mentioned in the discussion of the metabolic processes in which t h e y take part, b u t have to be looked for in the separate c h a p t e r on enzymes or t h a t on biochemical mechanisms. Of course, in a b~ok o[ this size m a n y things have t ) go u n m e n t i o n e d or can only j a s t be touched upon. I n some instances this is p e r h a p s r a t h e r regrettable: for instance it would have been p l e a s a n t to find a little more a b o u t digestive processes and the s t r u c t u r e of the polysaccharides. Some items are mentioned so briefly t h a t t h e y might as well have been left out a k o g e t h e r : for instance, transaldolation and transketolation. These processes are difiqcult to understand w i t h o u t a more elaborate discussion of the hexose m o n o p h o s p h a t e oxidative p a t h w a y . B u t criticism is easy, and it will be much umre difficult to improve u p o n this book w i t h o u t losing its great a d v a n t a g e of conciseness. Some c o m m e n d a b l e features m a y still be indicated: a list of abbreviations and lists of biochemical literature, including sele~'te:l references at the end of each chapter. The book is h a n d s o m e l y produced and is illustrate:l with in~ny formalae and diagrams. Altogether it m a y be w a r m l y recomnlended for w h a t it is : an i n t r o d u c t o r y textbook. E. P. STEYN PARVt~ (Utrecht)

A Symposium on Amino Acid Metabolism, H . BENTLEY GLASS, T h e





Press, Baltimore,

1955, x v i +


pages, $12.5o. Das S y m p o s i u m h a t 1954 an der J o h n s H o p k i n s Universitiit s t a t t g e f u n d e n und alle Autoren, die m i t Erfolg auf d e m Gebiet des intermedi~ren Stoffwechsels der Aminos/~uren gearbeitet haben, w a r e n m i t NTortr~gen vertreten. So b e k o m m t m a n tiber die einzelnen Gebiete A u s k u n f t aus erster H a n d . Der g e s a m t e I n h a l t gliedert sieh in sechs Teile. I m ersten Tell sind die allgemeinen Reaktionen der Aminos~turen z u s a m m e n g e f a s s t wie Desaminierung, T r a n s a m i n i e r u n g , A u f n a h m e der Aminos~turen in die Zellen, Aufbau y o n Proteinen u n d F e r m e n t e n aus Aminos~uren. Die anderen Teile b r i n g e n den Stoffwechsel der einzelnen Aminos~uren in G r u p p e n nach der V e r w a n d t s c h a f t ihres Schicksals geordnet. Am Schluss fasst BENTLEY GLASS alles z u s a m m e n . Sein Aufsatz gibt einen geschlossenen ~ b e r b l i c k tiber den gegenw~rtigen S t a n d unserer K e n n t n i s s e yore intermedi/~ren Stoffwechsel der Aminos/iuren u n d in den v o r a u s g e h e n d e n Kapiteln erffLhrt m a n die Einzelheiten der experimentellen Beweise. I n den Diskussionen, die ebenfalls a b g e d r u c k t sind, wird m a n c h e s ergg.nzt, anderes eingeschri~nkt. Gas m a c h t das Buch lebendig u n d seine Lekttire anregend. N u r eines ist auszusetzen. Auf dem Titelblatt erfiihrt man, dass alas Buch d e m Stoffwechsel der Aminosiiuren gewidmet ist. Das wird auf jeder linken Seite wiederholt, als ob m a n es vergessen kOnnte. Besser h~tte m a n e r w ~ h n t welche Aminos/iure gerade behandelt wird. Gas h/itte die B e n u t z u n g des Buehes wesentlich erleichtert. K. FELIX ( F r a n k f u r t a.M.)