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Book Review Bio-inorganic Chemistry. By R. W. Hay

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helices. Specific structures examined in detail include tobacco mosaic virus, specific DNA-binding proteins such as
CAP and cro, and nucleosomes.
The early chapters of the book are rather intensively
technical, and unfortunately lacking in general signposts,
so that the non-specialist reader will find the going rather
tortuous; the later chapters are significantly better in this
regard, and should be quite useful as reference material for
students and professionals alike in the fields of molecular
biology and biochemistry.
All research-level monographs contain errors, and this
one is no exception, although I did not find many. The
proofreading was generally very good, but a too-generous
sprinkling of double bonds around the purine and pyrimidine ring systems was allowed to sneak through in Chapter 2, which may confuse beginning students. The only error of principle which I feel obliged to mention is the incorrect treatment of the dissection of linking number into
twist and writhe. Both the text and the figures make it
seem that one can determine the writhe of a superhelical
structure simply by counting the number of superhelical
turns. This error (the writhe of a superhelix depends on its
pitch) sets back understanding of D N A topology substantially.
This is a valuable reference book, which should be on
the shelves of all who are interested in the structure and
function of nucleic acids.
Donald M . Crothers [hB 722 IE]
Department of Chemistry,
Yale University, New Haven (USA)
Bio-inorganic Chemistry. By R . W . Hay. Ellis Horwood,
Chichester 1984. 191 pp., stitched, $ 24.95.--ISBN 0470-20066-9
Inorganic biochemistry is in a turbulent state of development. An up-to-date introduction to this field which is
not only aimed at specialists is years overdue. Thus, Hay’s
book will encounter a n eagerly expectant public-and, to
come straight to the point, it is therefore particularly disappointing.
The introductory chapter, short and informative, is concerned with biologically essential metal ions, with their ligands in physiological media and with some of their
chemical characteristics that are relevant in this context.
Subsequently, the important physical methods of inorganic
biochemistry are described, necessarily by means of examples. Only the section on EXFAS, the most important of
the new sources of information for the investigation of metal binding in proteins, is more extensive.
Apart from a short (and adequate) chapter on the biochemistry of the alkali metals and alkaline earths, the book
is devoted to the r61e of the transition metals in biology.
Here, the reader is confronted with a lamentably disorganized collection of partly out-of-date information with very
arbitrary emphases and exclusions. To begin with the positive: the chapter on substrate-activating metalloenzymes
(carboxypepsidase, carboanhydrase and alcohol dehydrogenase) amounts to a n up-to-date, well thought out introduction. It is clear that the author’s own research interests
lie in this area. Unfortunately, in the case of carboanhydrase, of the many model systems examined, the most convincing one by Groves (1981) is missing. Equally well handled are oxygen fixation and iron-sulfur proteins-a considerable achievement in light of the abundance of proAngew. Chem. Int. Ed. Engl. 25 (1986) No. 3
teins with Fe-S clusters known today.
Set against this, the presentation of the theme “oxygen
transport” suffers from Hay’s after all very “inorganic”
viewpoint. The willful impression is conveyed that ironporphyrin can accomplish the transport perfectly well on
its own and that the protein is only a sort of packing. Hemoglobin itself is pushed into the background by the depth
and extent of the treatment of model systems and of the
(biochemically irrelevant) cobalt-oxygen complexes.
It becomes really annoying in the section on the fascinating catalytic properties of cytochromes of type P450.
These heme proteins “can” hydroxylate alkanes under
physiological conditions. In 1982 (for which year the book
claims to present the state of knowledge) much was already known about the mechanism responsible for this.
We are offered a random selection from the state of discussion around 1980; the r6les of the axially coordinated sulfur and of the active Fe-0 species are either quite wrongly
represented or simply not referred to. Cytochrome P450,
catalase and hemoglobin are three heme proteins whose
remarkably different interactions with oxygen are decisively determined by axial ligands of the heme iron: the
opportunity of a comparative discussion of these three is
let slip. This is particularly regrettable because in this case
“inorganic” and “biochemical” interests really have coalesced in ideal fashion to a genuine “bioinorganic” research area.
The biochemistry of iron in aerobic media offers the
chance of a sheer “exciting” account of how the insolubility of iron(ii1) hydroxide has been come to terms with. On
uptake, transport and storage, before and during its inclusion in functional proteins, the iron is kept in solution
through a seamless sequence of strong complexing agents.
Unfortunately, the few particulars on this are dotted right
through the whole book so that the connection is lost in
exotic detail and is not made very comprehensible. The
biochemistry of copper is equally unsystematically handled: a direct comparison of the three types of copper
binding centers in proteins is sought in vain; this certainly
does not facilitate the understanding of the not-yet-expert
(and the book is aimed at students!).
It only remains to be pointed out that one of the functionally most important and “bio-inorganically” interesting metallo-proteins-cytochrome-c-oxidase, currently the
subject of much research, receives no more than a passing
reference from the author. The purchase of this book can
be recommended to no-one-least of all its intended readership of advanced students.
Michael Weller [NB 700 IE]
VCH Verlagsgesellschaft, Weinheim (FRG)
Methods of Enzymatic Analysis. Vol. 6. Metabolites 1: Carbohydrates. Edited by H. U. Bergmeyer, .
I
.
Bergmeyer,
and M . Grassl. 3rd Edition. Verlag Chemie, Weinheim
1984. xxix, 701 pp., bound, D M 295.00.--ISBN 3-52726046-3
This volume describes analyses for carbohydrates and
related compounds. The coverage is broad: from poly-,
oligo-, and disaccharides through monosaccharides to
three-, two-, and one-carbon compounds. The four chapters of this volume are subdivided into sections. Each section normally covers the analysis of a single metabolite, although, several metabolites which can be co-analyzed are
occasionally grouped together. Certain important com29 1
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