The biochemistry of the nucleic acids. 2nd edition

The biochemistry of the nucleic acids. 2nd edition

The Biochemistry of the Nucleic Acids. 2nd Edition. By J. N. DAVIDSON, Gardiner Professor of Physiological Chemistry in the University of Glasgow. Met...

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The Biochemistry of the Nucleic Acids. 2nd Edition. By J. N. DAVIDSON, Gardiner Professor of Physiological Chemistry in the University of Glasgow. Methuen and Co., Ltd., London; John Wiley and Sons, Inc., New York, N. Y.; 1953. viii + 200 pp. Price $2.25. In reviewing the first (1950) edition of this pocket-size volume, Schlenk, himself the author of an excellent and comprehensive nucleic acid review only the year before, remarked that it would be difficult to find any book giving a higher ratio of information per dollar and commented on the clarity, conciseness, and accuracy of the presentation. These assessments hold good with regard to the revised and reset second edition which is all the more welcome because of the many advances that have been made in the past few years, advances which render obsolete many portions of the first edition (and of other volumes of similar or earlier date). These advances have been accommodated in the new edition by discarding obsolete material and by introducing new material, particularly in those chapters dealing with nucleotide and polynucleotide structures, with the composition of cell nuclei, and with the mechanisms of nucleic acid biosynthesis. The new chromatographic and enzymic techniques which are responsible for so many of these developments (e.g., a 3’,5’ structure of ribonucleic acids, the isolation of 2’-, 3’-, :md 5’-nucleotides, the constancy of the deoxyribonucleic acid content per diploid nucleus in a given species, and the formation of ribose from glucose) are briefly described in the appropriate sections. The book commences with a description of the basic chemical structures, their isolation by chromatography, and their mode of combination into polynucleotide stsructures; brief chapters on nucleases and on histochemical and chemical detection methods lead t,o a more extended discussion of the nucleic acid contents of tissues, of cytoplasm, and of nuclei. Then follow chapters summarizing the work on biosynthesis, with tracers, and an extended discussion of the biological activities ascribed to the nucleic acids. That the book is much more than an annot,ated bibliography is perhaps most clearly shown in this chapter where it is point,ed out, for example, that “the (present) connection between ribonucleic acid and protein synthesis is purely one of coincidence in time and space” and that biochemical links t’o any process of reproduction or growth (i.e., synthesis) are not yet known, in spite of the strong circumstant,ial evidence connecting thcsc vital processes with nucleic acids. The picture thus presented (and it may be remarked here that many figures and t,ables are of the most recent vintage), although admittedly not exhaustive, has both breadth and perspective. Together with the well-selected and up-to-date bibliographies at the end of each chapter, the book serves well the author’s stated purpose of outlining the nucleic acid and nucleoprotein field for biologically minded chemists, for chemically minded biologists, and for students of biochemistry. It can also be recommended to biochemists specializing in fields somewhat remote from this one. WALDO E. COHN, Oak Ridge, Tennessee