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Book Review Practical Protein ChemistryЧa Handbook. Edited by A. Darbre

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Protein Chemistry in Vogue
The last few years have seen advances in molecular biology which break new ground. Since in most cases the end
product of a piece of research in molecular biology is a
protein, there has also been a new upsurge of interest in
protein chemistry. The importance of collaboration between molecular biologists and protein chemists can be
seen by considering an example. Thus, the protein chemist
begins by determining a part of the sequence, starting at
the terminal NH, group, for a very small quantity of an
unknown protein. Next the molecular biologist, using an
oligodeoxynucleotide which corresponds to the sequenced
portion, isolates the gene or the cDNA of the unknown
protein and expresses this in a foreign organism. The recombinant protein which is thereby obtained in a sufficient quantity can now be characterized by the protein
chemist (physico-chemical properties, perhaps a sequence
analysis to confirm the cDNA sequence, determining the
positions of any post-translational modifications such as
disulfide bridging, glycosylation, or proteolytic scissions,
determining secondary and tertiary structure, and identifying biological activity). The combined efforts may culminate in selective mutagenesis of the protein being studied
(“protein engineering”). The techniques of protein chemistry needed in order to attain these and other objectives are
described in detail in
Practical Protein Chemistry-a Handbook. Edited by A .
Darbre. Wiley, Chichester 1986. xix, 620 pp., bound, $
9 1.55.- ISBN 0-47 1-90673-5
The book includes chapters on affinity chromatography,
disulfide bonds, fragmentation of proteins, separation of
peptide and protein mixtures, X-ray crystallography, predicting likely secondary and tertiary structures, a section
on analysis of glycoproteins, and, occupying a central position, several contributions on manual and automatic
methods of sequence analysis. The most important methods used in protein chemistry are here summarized in a
single volume by prominent experts, the only exceptions
being peptide synthesis and the chemical modification of
proteins, which have already been covered in detail elsewhere.
The term “protein engineering” is relatively new, but the
field to which it mainly refers has been in existence since
the beginnings of sequence analysis and peptide synthesis,
being previously described less succinctly as “the study of
protein structure and function”. Protein engineering in its
broadest sense means modifying the properties of proteins,
e.g. their stability, specificity towards particular substrates,
or enzymic activity. One must also include in this the developing field of designing new polypeptides which d o not
occur naturally. The current popularity of protein engineering arises from the possibility of being able, through
site-directed mutagenesis, to effect any desired amino-acid
exchange at any desired position on a protein chain. It is
therefore not surprising that we now have the first monographs dealing with this field. The book to be discussed
here is
Protein Engineering. Edited by M . Inouye and R . Sarma.
Academic Press, New York 1986. xiii, 424 pp., bound, $
49.95.- ISBN 0- 12-372485-6
The work is divided into four sections. The first (Structure and Design) includes articles on the importance of
data banks of protein sequences, the construction of models of biologically active polypeptides, the molecular analysis of thermophilic proteins, the total chemical synthesis
of a gene for bovine rhodopsin, “surface simulation synthesis”, and a particularly important chapter on the analysis of homologous tertiary structures. The second section
(Mutant Analysis) deals with mutants of individual proteins; examples are the hemagglutinin of the influenza virus, bacterio-opsin, staphylococcal nuclease, and the lysozyme of the T4 bacteriophage. In the third section (Complex Systems), the protein engineering of antibody molecules deserves particular attention. The antigen binding
sites of the variable regions of light and heavy chains suggest the possibility of manipulations which could lead to
completely new proteins; experiments along these lines are
still at an early stage. The fourth section (Applications) includes chapters on enzymic reactions in non-aqueous media, on directed transport of toxins by using monoclonal
antibodies, on the production of new antibiotics, on genetic transformation of plants, and on the application of
genetic engineering to bioinsecticides.
The individual contributions have undoubtedly been
written by authors competent in their fields, but it must be
said that the editors of the book have shown some lack of
care, especially in the fourth section, in what has been included under the heading of protein engineering which is
not identical with genetic engineering and biotechnology ;
some of the chapters are at best only marginally related to
the book’s title. Conversely, some topics which ought to
have been covered in an introduction to this field and an
account of its main features are not included, e.g. the prediction of likely protein structures and their experimental
determination, the design of new proteins, and a good
summary of the methods of site-directed mutagenesis (all
of which are covered in another book on protein engineering, edited by Oxender and Fox). Also, some of the contributions in this monograph are not very up-to-date; a glaring example is a chapter with 50 references, of which 42
are to papers published in the 1960’s and 1970’s and only
eight relate to the 1980’s. Despite these shortcomings, the
book can be recommended for the predominantly high
quality of the contributions. However, newcomers to the
field should begin with a better structured work than this.
Bernd Gutre [NB 860/861 IE]
Biochemisches Institut
der Universitat Zurich (Switzerland)
Aromaticity. By P. J . Garrart. Wiley-Interscience, New
York 1986. xi, 318 pp., bound, $ 65.00.--ISBN 0-47180703-6
The many-faceted concept of aromaticity has had a profound effect on progress in organic chemistry from its beginnings up to the present day, involving an interplay of
experiment and theory. This monograph, intended for use
as a student textbook, attempts to convey something of
that continuing process. The arrangement of the present
work follows that of the text published by the same author
15 years ago, under the same title. After a short historical
introduction, the first of the eleven chapters continues by
defining the problem of aromaticity, then gives a very conAngew. Chem. Int. Ed. Engl 27 11988) No. 2
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