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Biochemistry

Biochemistry

107 Biochemistry by M a r t i n C a r r a n d B o b C o r d e l l . p p 128. N e l s o n B l a c k i e , G l a s g o w . 1993. £6.50 ISBN 0-17-448196...

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Biochemistry by M a r t i n C a r r a n d B o b C o r d e l l . p p 128. N e l s o n B l a c k i e , G l a s g o w . 1993. £6.50 ISBN 0-17-448196-9 "Enthusiasts may note that PEP is phosphoenol pyruvic acid . . . Realists, with syllabus and examinations in mind, should learn the simplified version!" This quote gives an idea of the friendly tone of this short book for Advanced (A)-level, A/S-level and SCE higher courses in biology. Its nine chapters cover "all that is likely to be asked of you - - on things biochemical - - in your exams." This "all' includes biochemicals, enzymes, DNA, biochemistry of heterotrophs and autotrophs, photosynthesis, and methods in biochemistry. An appendix includes a guide to chemistry, and a final section contains examination questions. An introductory chapter puts biochemistry into perspective and organises the subject around ten questions which the rest of the book enables the reader to answer at least partially. Each chapter is clearly laid out with terms defined in boxes at the foot of the page, and questions in boxes within the text. These questions encourage active learning by asking the reader to think about what is in the nearby text or figure. The diagrams are clear and include a number of cartoons. I noticed only two minor blemishes. On page 9 weak is used instead of dilute. On pages 73-74 fructose 1,6-diphosphate is mentioned. Nowadays this is called fructose 1,6-bisphosphate because each of the two phosphates is joined to a different part of the molecule. Indeed, this very point is made on p 103 when dealing with ribulose bisphosphate! As a biochemist accustomed to biochemistry texts in excess of 1000 pages, I marvel at how much biochemistry has been included in these 128 pages. The clear explanations and encouraging tone should help to demystify biochemistry for the struggling 'A-leveller'. Those of us who teach biochemistsry at a higher level, to university students for example, may also find that the book is a useful introduction to recommend to any students who are in difficulties. The authors' sympathetic approach is again shown by their concluding words: "Often the text offers you slightly more than the minimum. In doing this, the intention is not to overload you but to provide that 'bit extra' which makes for better understanding - - and slightly better answers, too. Good luck!" Bernard S Brown

Metal Ions in Biological Systems Volume 30 Metailoenzymes Involving Amino Acid-Residue and Related Radicals E d i t e d by H e l m u t Sigel a n d A s t r i d Sigel. p p 536. M a r c e l D e k k e r , N e w Y o r k . 1994. $195 ISBN 0-8247-9093-6 The volumes of Metal Ions in Biolgoical Systems are a wellknown gold mine of review articles on metals and biology. Apart from a digression on copper transport and resistance in bacteria, Volume 30 is devoted to metalloenzymes involving amino acidresidue and related radicals. Many enzymes function by controlling transition metal chemistry. As if this feat were not enough, some metalloenzymes also utilise free radical chemistry. Irondependent ribonucleotide reductase comes readily to mind in this connection. Other cases are also known. By considering peroxidases, photosystem II, ribonucleotide reductases, endoperoxide synthases, diol dehydrases, galactose oxidase and amino acid oxidases, this book is a lively introduction to the nascent field of free radical enzymology. The field was established by the identification of a stable free radical site, involving a binuclear iron-tyrosyl free radical centre, in iron-dependent ribonucleotide reductase. This case is now rivalled by the remarkable demonstraton of an a-carbon glycyl radical at the BIOCHEMICAL

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1995

active site of pyruvate formate lyase. These radicals, tyrosyl and a-glycyl, give much food for thought. Apart from growing evidence for free radical pathways in enzyme redox mechanisms, to what extent have biology and free radical chemistry worked hand in hand in the evolution of enzymatic reactions? Manganese-dependent ribonucleotide reductases do not show any EPR-detectable organic free radical. One could say that the organic free radical might be hidden and EPR-silent by magentic coupling to the manganese centre, or be short-lived. On the other hand, it is possible that manganese-dependent ribonucleotide reductases function without an equivalent of the tyrosyl radical of the iron-dependent enzymes, in which case, the question arises: what are free radicals really doing in ribonucleotide reductases and other enzymes? The additional existence of ribonucleotide reductases requiring 5'-deoxyadenosylcobalamin for activity testifies to the presence of "amazing and confusing" reaction mechanisms, to use the words of J A Stubbe (see J Biol Chem 265, 5329, 1990), that challenge traditional biochemistry and guarantee this latest offering by the Sigels a wide readership. W H Bannister

Vitamin Receptors Vitamins as iigands in cell communication E d i t e d by K D a k s h i n a m u r t i . p p 259. C a m b r i d g e U n i v e r sity Press, C a m b r i d g e . 1994. £50 ISBN 0-521-39280-2 The subtitle of this book is misleading: the book only deals in part with vitamins in cell communication, or to put it another way it is impossible to say that all the vitamins have a role in cell communication. Vitamin D does, vitamin C does not. Indeed, the idea of ligands and receptors is stretched beyond acceptable limits to include transport and other proteins. This having been said, there is a great deal of interesting information collected in the book. The first chapters are about retinoids and vitamin D and then there are chapters on proteins that bind B~,_, folates, riboflavin, a-tocopherol, ascorbic acid, thiamin, B6, and finally biotin. The reviews are up to date and are well written (by different authors). It is difficult to know what audience the Editor was aiming at. This is certainly not a student book. It might be useful to some researchers wishing to get into new fields and perhaps to lecturers preparing lectures. K Parker

Biochimie Agro-Industrieile b y G L i n d e n a n d D L o r i e n t . p p 368. M a s s o n , Paris. 1994 (In F r e n c h ) ISBN 2-225-84307-4 The main objective of this book is to give information concerning biomolecules obtained from agriculture and the corresponding procedures. The book is divided in two parts: (1) The first (9 chapters, 208 pp) describes the properties of the compounds and the extraction procedures. The classification is made of the basis of the origin of the products: plant, milk, egg, meat, fish. This part ends with their valorisation. (2) The second part (6 chapters, 146 pp) deals with the different groups of molecules which may be obtained, their use, and their chemical or enzymatic modifications. The book is well-documented and it will be useful as a reference source as well as for the potentiality of use of agricultural compounds and for information on the most recent developed processes. The chapters are clear, well written with many tables (50) to facilitate one's reading. I recommend this book for teachers of biochemistry who will find interesting applications to be included in their lectures. J Wallach