Internutronal Biodeterioration Copynght Printed & Biodqyudation 0 1996 Elsevier in Great Britain. All (1996) 233-235 Science Llmited rights rese...

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Internutronal Biodeterioration Copynght Printed

& Biodqyudation 0

1996 Elsevier

in Great



(1996) 233-235 Science Llmited rights reserved


Book Review Note: The book review on p.103 (International Biodeterioration & Biodegradation Volume 37, Issue l-2, 1996) was submitted by Christine Chow who is based at Wayne State University, Detroit, MI 48202, USA.

chemical composition and the X-ray diffraction studies of DNA dramatically demonstrate the relationship between the chemical structure and the autologous and heterologous DNA function. The structural and functional organization implies temporal and/or spatial controls. This concept is but is throughout the text, developed demonstrated especially well in case of enzymes, their kinetics, mechanisms and thermodynamics of catalysis (Chapters 12-14). The student is bound to remember these topics, because they are presented again in the context of actual biochemical processes such as glucose and nucleotide metabolism (Chapters 16 and 26, respectively). The importance of biochemical controls is further emphasized by a most exhaustive description of what is currently known about metabolic and genetic diseases resulting from aberrations in metabolic controls. Furthermore, their presentations of metabolic disorders highlight their fourth theme, namely, the relevance of biochemistry to medicine and treatment/drug design. The development of the four framework themes is present throughout the text and provides a wonderful integration of the history and evolution of scientific thought, the structurefunction relationships of biomolecules, their metabolism and regulation as well as the consequences of faulty regulation. The organization of topics is traditional with minor departures, which serve to improve the presentation of the material. For example, in most texts, the four major classes of biomolecules are presented in four consecutive chapters or subsections of one, usually at or near the beginning of the book, with little or no functional context in which these molecules act. Voet and Voet introduce a class of building blocks, follow their organization into macromolecules, followed by their function in a living cell. This makes for a more interesting and logical progression of thought, much easier for a student to remember.

Biochemistry. By Donald Voet and Judith G. Voet. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, 1995. xvii. 1361 pp. Illus. $83.95. The authors of Biochemistry, 2nd edition, textbook of produced a lucid, comprehensive biochemistry, in which they aimed at presenting the subject matter in the framework of four interwoven themes: the importance of experimentation in gaining basic knowledge in biochemistry, the unity and diversity of life forms, structural and functional organization resulting in delicate interdependent controls with crucial consequences for a living cell/organism, and lastly the direct relevance of biochemistry to the understanding of a number of diseases at the molecular level leading to more rational approaches of designing therapeutic agents. Voet and Voet have succeeded in developing all four of these, and excel in developing the structurerelationships. The importance of function biochemical experimentation is demonstrated from the scientific point of view as well as historical: who did it, why and what methodology was used, interpretation of results and their impact on the scientific thought. For example, Sumner’s success in crystallization of urease not only disbanded previous erroneous ideas that proteins were colloidal aggregates of smaller ill-delmed molecules, but also immediately suggested that other proteins could also be purified and studied. The approaches utilized in protein isolations/ purification were applied to isolations of other biomolecules. Similarly, chapters on metabolism in Section IV and especially on the nucleic acids, are laced with experimentation that resulted in key discoveries in biochemistry, providing bases for development of other analytical techniques, including recombinant DNA technology. The four themes which provide the framework for this text are of necessity interwoven, reflecting the dynamics of biochemical investigations and the resulting information. For example, the 233


Book review

A superb example of this thematic continuity are Chapters 4-9, which cover amino acid structures, their organization into proteins, followed by protein function, regulation, molecular evolution and what can be learned from such studies. Structures of sugars and lipids are treated more succinctly, yet the critical aspects of structuree function relationships are presented in Chapters 10 and 11, with their metabolism presented in subsequent chapters in Section IV. Nucleotides are presented in Chapter 26, which deals with their metabolism and just precedes the last section (V) of the book on molecular genetics. Hence, this chapter sets a stage for subsequent chapters dealing with DNA as the genetic material and the informational which pathway in genetic information is transmitted. In fact, chapters dealing with DNA structure, function, repair, recombination transmission and information pathway (Chapters 27733) are so complete and up to date, that they could easily be used in a course on molecular biology of the gene or in cell biology. Chapter 34 is an absolutely wonderful integration of cell biology, immunology and physiology with biochemistry providing structural scaffolding. It too could easily serve as instructional material for these topics. Because the book is so comprehensive, detailed and precise on the subject matter presented, it was a bit surprising to find some topics not covered or covered in less than accurate or complete manner. For example, the end-product of glycolysis is given as pyruvate (PVA), as it is in most other texts. Although Voet and Voet mention on p. 464, that the lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) step is sometimes classified as the last reaction of glycolysis. This somewhat tentative assignment is ambiguous and confusing to the student, because in viva PVA is strictly speaking, an intermediate in both anaerobic and aerobic controlled combustion of glucose. Without the reduction by LDH of NAD + PVA to lactate, which regenerates required earlier in the oxidation of glyceraldehyde3-phosphate to 3-phosphoglycerate, glycolysis would stop, as would fermentation without the alcohol dehydrogenase activity which regenerates NAD+ , during fermentation. The enzyme catalysis, mechanisms and kinetics are rigorously presented in Chapters 12-14. However, the covalent and kcat inhibitions are omitted in their discussions of several types of Irreversible inhibitions. reversible enzyme covalent inhibitions were not only useful in

determining essential groups for activity of different enzymes, but often had practical applications (e.g. the insecticide, melathion). While many inhibitors inactivate any enzyme requiring a specitic essential amino acid R group (e.g. iodoacetate will react with a cysSH or hisimidazole group, depending on the pH), there exist inhibitors which are structural substrate analogues, targeting a specific enzyme. The enzyme either forms an aborted covalent enzyme-inhibitor complex or converts them from a latent to an active inhibitor, the latter now inactivating the enzyme in covalent fashion at the catalytic center (kcat inhibition; a biochemical Trojan horse). Such agents have a great potential as drugs because of their targeted action. While the authors mention the suicide enzyme concept when discussing the antitumor drugs (e.g. 5fluorodeoxyuridine Chapter 26), the topic would be more appropriately introduced and treated along with the enzyme inhibitions, and revisited later in the context of its applications. The glutathione (GSH) biosynthesis is discussed only in terms of the important g-glutamyl cycle. However, the GSH nonribosomal biosynthesis also provides a good preface to the peptide bond formation occurring during mRNA directed protein synthesis on ribosomes. An even more dramatic paradigm of peptide bond formation is the non-ribosomal biosynthesis of the cyclic decapeptide, Gramicidin S, in Bacillus brevis. Both of these provided researchers with ideas for requirements in ribosomal protein probable synthesis and suggested experimental approaches to decipher this mRNA directed process. In synthesis of these peptides, amino acid activation through an aminoacyladenylate intermediate is required. The activation as well as the correct order of amino acids in the fmal product resides in the enzyme activity/specificity. The initiation, transpeptidations/ elongation by successive transthiolations and termination processes involved in Gramicidin S biosynthesis provide biochemical prototype for the ribosomal protein synthesis. Hence, the students are conceptually prepared for the complexity of the latter process. They also better appreciate the importance and necessity for the evolution of the geneticallythe encoded protein synthesis. Lastly, involved in multienzyme protein fraction Gramicidin S biosynthesis demonstrates the importance of metabolic channeling as a rate control mechanism. For all these reasons, I believe

Book reviews

the inclusion of GSH and Gramicidin S biosynthesis would have been instructive. The preceding comments are relatively minor and points, given the overall quantitatively qualitatively rigorous presentation of biochemistry. The multicolor graphics are superbly used to feature concepts, principles, structures and mechanisms of different cellular processes. Each chapter is followed by a concise and by a well-organized relevant, summary updated list of references. As of June 1996, there will be available yearly supplements in order to keep the users of the text abreast with the latest and rapid developments in biochemical research. Available also, as supplements, are KINEMAGES (animated full color protein and nucleic acid images which students can manipulate in 3-D), as well as the SOLUTIONS MANUAL, with answers to all problems at the end of the chapters. These problems are by and large ones which challenge the student’s understanding of the material and using it to solve them in an imaginative manner. The text does not contain a glossary, which many students like to have. The text is, in spite of the authors’ claim to the contrary, that the text is suitable for


undergraduate and graduate level, I think it is suitable for a two semester course in biochemistry at the graduate level. Based on my own experience in teaching biochemistry to upper level undergraduate/graduate biology students, in spite of the prerequisites, they are not prepared for a biochemist’s biochemistry, which this text is. The authors themselves think that a student should have taken organic chemistry and an introduction to biochemistry, prior to his/her study of biochemistry using this text. Attempting to adopt it to an unprepared audience would take away from its texture. Although there are other excellent biochemistry texts available, I believe that none are as comprehensive in terms of the subject matter, the depth and the rigor in which it is covered and the way the diverse topics are linked. It is written clearly and concisely. It is a book well worth the investment and should be used by anyone seriously pursuing to understand the chemistry of life.


Ann Sodja of Biological Sciences, Wayne State University, Detroit MI 48202, USA