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Book Review Observing and Applying Secrets of the Cell Gene Regulation in Eukaryotes. By E. Wingender

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Observing and Applying Secrets of the Cell
Gene Regulation in Eukaryotes. By
E. Wingendeer. VCH Verlagsgesellschaft, Weinheim/VCH Publishers,
New York, 1993. 430pp., hardcover
DM 178.00, $ 120.00.-ISBN 3-52728460-511-56081-706-2
Anyone who is concerned on an everyday basis with the subject of eukaryotic
gene regulation will appreciate how demanding a task Edgar Wingender has set
himself in writing a monograph on this
highly topical theme. It is obviously very
difficult to take into account all the new
research results that are continually appearing. It is greatly to the credit of the
author and publishers that this book covers even work that has been published
very recently.
The material is arranged in a way that
progresses from the general to the specific,
skillfully introducing the reader to the
secrets of cellular processes in eukaryotic
organisms. The first chapter reveals the
complexity of the regulation scenario in a
eukaryotic cell. Chapters 2 to 4 describe
in detail the ‘principal characters’ involved i n gene regulation, the three R N A
polymerases. As in most stage productions, the effectiveness of the main actor
depends on his interaction with the supporting players. The author goes on to
describe the indispensable transcription
factors which play the supporting roles,
pointing out also that the same actor can
appear in several different productions.
Thus, for example. zinc finger proteins
have essential roles in gene regulation in
molds, insects, and vertebrates. The author discusses widely varied but precisely
chosen examples in which the zinc finger
ribbon motif controls the regulation of
cell proccsses. Here the R N A polymerases
This section contains book reviews and a list of
ncw books rcceived by the editor. Book reviews are
written b! invitation from the editor. Suggestions
for books to be reviewed and for book reviewers
are welcome. Publishers should send brochures or
(better) books to Dr. Ralf Baumann. Reddktion
Angewandte Cheinic, Postfach 10 1 1 61, D-69451
Weinheim. Federal Republic ofGermany. The editor reservts the right of selecting which books will
be reviewed. Uninvited books not chosen for
review will not be returned.
1111 Ed Engi 1994, 33. N o 22
are cast in ever more exciting and important roles.
Another class of transcription factors
has as its common feature a homeobox
which is homologous to the ‘helixturn-helix’ D N A ribbon motif of the regulatory proteins in prokaryotes. In the
chapter on these the author shows that as
well as homeobox proteins there are other
types of transcription factors, such as the
‘helix-loop- helix’ and ‘leucine zipper’,
which can, for example, interact cooperatively so as to enable a Drosophilu embryo
to undergo differentiation.
Virtually every aspect of gene regulation is mentioned, including such topics as
signal transduction via a ‘second messenger’, and steroid receptors which come i,nto direct contact with the promotors of
the genes concerned. Not only the specialist but also the reader approaching the
subject for the first time will benefit from
the book. It is unlikely that one would
want to read through the book from beginning to end, and probably that is not
what the author intends. Instead he has
put together a compendium on the subject
of gene regulation in eukaryotes, so that
each reader can satisfy his or her thirst for
knowledge in the relevant areas of this
currently very important field. For example, if one looks in the index under
‘GCN4’, one is directed to an informative
account of the importance of this yeast
transcription factor, including also a mention of transcription factors that function
similarly in other eukaryotes (in this
case the vertebrate proto-oncogene c-jun).
At the end of of each section within a
chapter there is a useful summary which
enables the reader to consolidate the foregoing material. Another excellent idea is
that of the gray ‘boxes’ which are placed
at appropriate points in the text to give
background information on, for example,
c-Rafl, c-Mos, Ras, EGF, and thyroid
hormones. The list of abbreviations, although not exhaustive, is also a useful aid.
1 found only a few shortcomings, such as
inconsistencies between figures and legends (e.g., Figs. 9, lo), repetition of the
information about Rafl (cf. pp. 69, 249),
and the inaccurate description of the
uvrABC endonuclease as an enzyme
rather than a multienzyme complex, but
fr‘ VCH V~rlagsgesellschuftmhH, D-69451 Wemhrrm, 1994
these d o not detract significantly from the
high standard of the book. The plain and
straightforward style of the text does not
rob the subject of eukaryotic gene regulation of any of its splendor. The book
should be in every library where students
of molecular genetics and related subjects
occasionally spend time (or ought to
d o so).
As with every theatrical production, it
is the audience who determine whether it
is a success. The same will also apply to
this book, and therefore I recommend you
to buy it and visit the show!
Michurl Schwizer
Institute of Food Research
Genetics and Microbiology Department
Norwich (UK)
Biotechnology. Vol. 2. Genetic Fundamentals and Genetic Engineering.
Edited by H.-J. Rehm and G. Reed.
VCH Verlagsgesellschaft, Weinheim,
1993. XIII, 880 pp., hardcover
DM 490.00.--ISBN 3-527-28312-9
“This is, consequently, the first book
which deals comprehensively with all aspects of genetics in biotechnology ...” This
sentence on the first page of the book reviewed here describes the ambitious goal
that the 32 authors have set themselves;
the claim to have achieved it is at least
partly justified. The idea of collecting together in a single volume all the knowledge of microbial and molecular genetics
that is relevant to biotechnology undoubtedly addresses a real gap in the literature. The very rapid growth of knowledge in the areas of genetic fundamentals
and genetic engineering during the 1970s
played a key role in the development of
biotechnology, and these sciences continue to provide the main nucleus for innovation.
However, this aspect is only brought
out to a limited extent in this volume,
which instead follows the overall concept
of the twelve-volume work, with a greater
emphasis on ‘classical’ biotechnology
than on its molecular genetic aspects.
The main subject matter of this volume
is divided into three areas. First, classical
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secrets, applying, book, observing, eukaryotic, wingender, genes, regulation, review, cells
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