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Book Review Basis-Rmpp. Taschen-Lexikon der Chemie ihrer Randgebiete und Hilfswissenschaften (Pocket Dictionary of Chemistry and Related Fields). By O.-A

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BOOK REVIEWS
Transport durch biologische Membranen. (Transport Across
Biological Membranes.) By M . Hofer. Verlag Chemie
GmbH, Weinheim-New York, 1977. 1st edit., ix, 128 pp.,
49 figs., 6 tables, paperback, D M 44.00.
The author has given a condensed account-long outstanding in German-of the current knowledge of transport of
molecules across biological membranes, permitting the reader
to gain a quick access to this already very extensive field.
The work deals mainly with the kinetic and theoretical
aspects of membrane transport, which reflects the trend in
transport research so far. The structure of the membrane is
considered a black box, and the concentrations of ions or
metabolites, or changes in these, are measured on both sides
of the membrane. Only in the last few years has one started
to isolate the molecular components making up the transport
system.
The transport across biological membranes is treated in
five chapters: 1. Structure and function of biological membranes, 2. The transport function of biological membranes
(e.y. basic laws, diffusion of ions, and carrier-based transport),
3. Kinetics of catalyzed transport (e.g. transport kinetics under
equilibrium conditions, kinetics of counter-transport, carrierbased transport and diffusion, and inhibition of transport
processes), 4. Active transport processes (e.g. the phosphotransferase system in bacteria, sodium pumps, chemiosmotic
theory, kinetics of active carrier-based transport), and 5. Molecular foundations of carrier-based transport (e.y. carrier molecules, problems of carrier isolation, ionophores, and reconstitution of transport systems). The derivation of kinetic equations
and the necessary mathematics are described in detail in an
appendix.
The book is mainly oriented at kinetics, therefore some of
the experimental problems are not discussed: how to isolate
membrane vesicles, how to find out whether these are open
or closed, and the question of whether the isolation alters
the permeation characteristics of eukaryotic membranes. Similarly, when discussing the current membrane models, the
author restricts his presentation to the polymer membrane
model, for which not much experimental evidence exists.
Singer and Nicolson’s fluid mosaic model, now accepted by
most research workers, is not presented, and literature references for it are also missing.
To sum up, the book gives a condensed and well-organized
account of the broad subject of membrane transport and
gives the experimental examples which are known up till now.
The main emphasis is on kinetics and mathematical treatment.
The book makes it possible to gain a quick introduction to
the problems of transport across bio-membranes, and it is to
be welcomed.
G. Brunner [NB 424 IE]
Basis-Rompp. Taschen-Lexikon der Chemie, ihrer Randgebiete
und Hilfswissenschaften (Pocket Dictionary of Chemistry
and Related Fields). By 0 . - A . Neumiiller. Franckh’sche Verlagshandlung, Stuttgart, 1977. 1st edit., vol. 1 : A-L, vol.
2: M-Z, altogether 768 pp., numerous figures, boards,
D M 39.50.
Certainly not everybody who needs the big six-volume
Rompp for his work has it, either because of the cost or
because of the very space it takes up. It was therefore an
obvious and sensible idea to produce a “distillate” from the
Angrw. Chrm. I n t . E d . Enyl. 17 (1978) N o . 9
complete version. The result is the Basis-Rompp, which consists
of a selection of the entries found in the well-established
Chemie-Lexikon. The entries selected for the pocket edition
relate to important fundamental concepts of chemistry, classes
of compounds like aldehydes, nucleic acids, and metals, types
of reactions, measurement methods and methods of investigation, and laws. The entries have the same text as in the
parent work, so there is no loss of quality-only the literature
at the end of the entries has been omitted to save space.
This version does not give e. 9. commercial products, trivial
names, and single compounds. The elements are mentioned
only under the heading of the Periodic System and are not
discussed where they should come in an alphabetical arrangement. This means that they are not covered, and they may
be missed by some non-chemists-e. y. medics, biologists and
physicists-who are among those for whom the book is
intended; chemists at universities and in industry can overlook
this, because they will find suffucient information on the elements in other reference books. Of course, we cannot ask
for everything when the price is so low. As a handy reference
book the Basis Rompp certainly achieves its objective; those
who want to know more are referred to the sources taken
over from the big Rompp.
C. Weiske [NB 423 IE]
ComprehensiveBiochemistry. Vol. 25: Regulatory FunctionsMechanisms of Hormone Action. Edited by M . Florkin
and E. H . Stotz. Elsevier/North Holland Biomedical Press,
Amsterdam, 1975.1st edit., 199 pp., 22 figs., 12 tables, bound,
Dfl. 40.00.
When reviewing a book published three years ago one
can either mention what has happened since to make the
book obsolete or to treat it as a document. In the second
case the book under discussion ought to be compared with
volume 24. The new volume treats the mechanisms of hormone
action and the characteristics and functions of adenylatecyclases, both under the general heading of “biochemical regulation”. The subject is divided into compartments by the cell
membrane, being concerned with what happens on the two
sides of the cell membrane and in it. Both chapters therefore
deal with very topical subjects and, as always when a subject
has a future, the work has its own noncooperative evolutionary
mechanisms and corresponding non-linear publication kinetics.
In the first chapter P. Karlsnn, B. Doenecke, and C. E.
Sekeris discuss-on the basis of over 400 references, covering
the field up to 1974-the interactions of steroid, thyroid,
and peptide hormones with components of the cytoplasm
and the nucleus, particularly with chromatin. Adenylate-cyclase systems are thus deliberately treated separately in the
next chapter. The authors first cite the experimental observations and then weigh up the merits and the shortcomings
of the various interpretations, hypotheses, and theories-and
mostly reject them. The most likely interpretation is that
the signal substances are bound on a chromatic protein, and
this initiates the transcription by RNA polymerase B. The
chapter is distinguished by exemplary clarity and critical systematization and is a good, stimulating contribution to a handbook.
E . W Sutherland made the very important discovery that
cyclo-AMP is a secondary messenger, which takes the cell-spe-
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