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Book Review A Nucleus of Modern Chemical Techniques Advanced Organic Chemistry of Nucleic Acids. By Z. A. Shabarova and A. A. Bogdanov

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A Nucleus of Modern Chemical Techniques
Adkanced Organic Chemistry of Nucleic Acids. By Z . A ShLihutvva and
A . A . Bogrlmov. VCH Verlagsgesellschatt. Weinheim, 1994. 588 pp.,
hardcover DM 248.00. --ISBN 3-5272902 1-4
Alungsidc the classical disciplines of organic. inorganic, and physical chemistry,
a number of related disciplines are nowadays increasing in
importance. One of
these is bioorganic
chemistry. Whereas
it was formerly regarded a s just a
minor branch of bi<)logy.or ;tt best accepted a s biocheniistry and perhaps
tolerated at the periphery of organic
chemistry. this field is now. with good reason. being wen its increasingly important.
The growth of interest in this interdiscipliixiry area is gaining further momentum
from the rapid adbances in research into
the in olecul ;I r inechan i sins that determine
life. In particular the developments i n
protein and nucleic acid chemistry are the
During thc last few years several monographs dealing with these topics at a specialist l e ~ e lhave appeared. In contrast.
the cuistin~textbooks are not up-to-date.
The book reviewed here. by the Russian
authors Zoe Shabarova and Alexey Bogdanov. is the most recent treatment of nucleic acid chemistrq. As indicated by the
title. the sub-ject of the book is the organic
chemistry 01' this class of natural compounds. In t l i t preface the authors make it
clear that their main aim was to produce a
textbook specifically for students.
The book is a completely revised English version of the textbook originally
published by the same authors in 1978 in
Russian under the title "The chemistry of
Nucleic Acids and their Compounds".
Much new material has been added, including a chapter on the highly topical
subject of ribozymes.
The book is divided into 1 1 chapters
(588 pages), most of which have been
written by Z. Shabarova. First the structure of nucleosides is described (Chapter 1 : pyrimidines and purines, importance of the configuration of the anomeric center. nucleoside antibiotics).
Their properties are then discussed
(Chapter 2: tautonieric structures. reactions with nucleophiles and electrophiles.
addition reactions. stability of the glycosidic bond). The following chapters describe the nucleotides which are the building blocks of DNA and RNA (Chapters 3
and 4: acidibase behavior, properties of
the phosphate group(s), reactions at
the phosphate group). Beginning on
page 187. Chapter 5 deals with the priniary structure of the nucleic acids DNA and
RNA. The nomenclature of nucleic acids
is explained. followed by a discussion of
the action of nucleases and methods for
determining the nucleoside sequence. In
Chapter 6 ("Determination of the Primary Structure of Nucleic Acids") the methods of sequencing are treated in greater
detail. including DNA-mapping. chemical sequencing. and enzymatic sequencing. Also included here is the method of
sequencing on a solid support. as well a s
the highly topical polymerase chain reaction (PCR) method. Chapter 7 deals u'ith
the basic features of the secondary structure of nucleic acids, including the conformational characteristics of nucleotide
monomers and single-strand oligonucleotides. The macromolecular structure of
D N A and RNA, starting with the WatsonPCrick model, is treated in Chapter 8.
Supercoiled DNA and other unusual
DNA structures such a s G-tetrads and
"hairpins" are described. followed by the
secondary structures of the t-RNAs and
high molecular mass RNAs. In the following chapter the student is introduced to
the chemical properties of polynucleotides
and to modifications of nucleic acids, e.g..
involving the carbohydrate or aglycon
moieties. The chapter ends with short descriptions of two studies of conformationa1 changes in D N A and four-stranded G4DNA. As mentioned earlier. Chapter 10
deals with the highly topical field of
ribozyme chemistry, This very readable
book ends with a chapter on a very
"chemical" aspect : the synthesis of nucleic acids. This consists of about 100 pages
in which not only chemo-emymatic methods but also the different chemical strategies of oligonucleotide synthesis are discussed in detail. The chapter is completed
by a description of the preparation of synthetic genes and the technique of cloning.
Literature references are listed at the end
of each chapter.
After reading this well-wi-itten book nobody can really doubt that the chemistry
of nucleosides and nuclcic acids is an intrinsic part of organic chemistry. Although some of the formula schemes are
unconventional and takc a little time to
get used to, the authors are to be congratulated on the quality of their work. As it
textbook this is ;I very huccessful effort.
My only complaint is that the publishers
need to introduce a cheaper paperback
version as soon 21s possible. because the
price of DM 248 is not affordable to students. I fear that until that is remedied, the
high price will limit the distribution ofthis
excellent book.
Chris Mi4c.r.
Institut fiir Organische Chemie
der Universitiit Frankfurt (Germany)
Modern Electroorganic Chemistry.
By D. Kj?r.iucou. Springer, Heidelberg,
1994. 228 pp., hardcover
DM 98.00.--ISBN 3-540-57504-9
During the last twent). years there have
been enormous developments in electroorganic chemistry and inany books
and review articles have appeared. In this
book D. Kyriacou has aimed to give a
systematic presentation of'current knowledge in the area of electroorganic chemistry. There are five chapkrs: a n introduction (17 pp.). followed by chapters on
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