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Microarray Analysis. By Mark Schena

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Atkins’ Molecules
By Peter Atkins.
Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2003.
235 pp., softcover
£ 19.95.—ISBN
Here it is. Fifteen years after the first
publication of Molecules, hailed by one
reviewer as “the most beautiful chemistry book ever written”, Peter Atkins has
reorganized, updated and, perhaps most
importantly, re-illustrated his private
collection of exciting molecules, and
presents the second edition. To sum it
up in one sentence: this book is addictive, a joy to browse through and to get
lost in. How does it work and what do
we find in it?
Atkins Molecules (the title of the
current edition) is a luxuriously illustrated selection of more than 200 compounds that, one way or another, have
an impact on human lives and influence
our everyday experiences. As such, it is
neither a textbook that is meant to be
read from cover to cover, nor an encyclopedia. The author's favorite molecules are arranged in seven subgroups:
simple substances; fuels, fats, and
soaps; synthetic and natural polymers;
taste, smell, and pain; sight and color;
the light and the dark; and life. Here
we find a diverse collection of molecules, most of them classifiable as
“organic”, ranging from the simple
(water, ammonia, sulfur oxides, methane) to the complex (paclitaxel, insulin,
hemoglobin, RNA). In between lie
many hidden secrets, and it is the exciteAngew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2004, 43, 2059 – 2060
ment of discovery that makes this book
so difficult to put away. Each molecule
is presented with space-filling and tubular structural representations, consistently color-coded to give the reader a
feeling for the three-dimensional
shapes. (As an organic chemist, I
would have liked to see chemical structures as well, as I have found myself constantly scribbling on the rim of the
pages.) The accompanying text (or
shall we say the prose) for each molecule is, without exception, highly informative and written largely in a nontechnical style. The book is full of anecdotes,
amusing facts, and details that reflect the
author's undiminished passion for his
subject. We learn, among many other
things, that the fragrance of peppermint
oil (menthol) is able to increase the
speed and the accuracy of typists; that
the tristearin deposited in a camel's
hump is oxidized to water and therefore
allows the beast to “drink its own
exhaust”; and that we dress in the odor
of death, but that luckily the carrier of
this smell (hexamethylenediamine) is
part of a non-odorous polymer (nylon).
One of the real treasures of this
book are the imaginative photographic
illustrations. Sulfuric acid, for example,
is accompanied by a picture of a colorful
sea slug, which uses this chemical as part
of its defence mechanism. Elegantly, the
substance responsible for the color of
urine (stercobilin) is depicted by a redcrested turaco, a bird that uses the
same compound to color its head-feathers. Cellulose is illustrated by a photo of
tunicates, one of the few classes of animals that produce a special form of it.
This list could go on.
The book targets the scientifically
interested, even those without having
had a beginner4s course in chemistry.
Here I have my doubts. Although the
book includes a ten-page introduction
to chemistry (a brave attempt), as well
as a glossary of technical terms, the
real benefit waits for those who are
somewhat more initiated. The book is
a valuable (and competitively priced)
source for spicing up lectures and presentations, and is therefore highly recommended for teachers, lecturers, and
everyone involved in promoting our science in public. Atkins Molecules is
intended to “augment our delight when
looking at the world”. It worked for
me and I am sure it will work for many
Rdiger Faust
Fachbereich Naturwissenschaften
Universit)t Kassel (Germany)
Microarray Analysis
By Mark Schena.
John Wiley & Sons,
Hoboken 2003.
630 pp., hardcover
£ 60.50.—ISBN
Microarray Analysis, by Mark Schena, is
a most welcome textbook about an
emerging technology in life sciences at
the intersection of (molecular) biology,
chemistry, physics, engineering, and
information sciences. This book, which
comprises 16 main chapters in about
450 pages (plus 140 pages of appendices
with more than 1500 references), is
intended to provide a conceptual, experimental, and methodological basis for
understanding microarray analysis, its
opportunities, and its power. It can be
stated at the outset that this goal has
been fully reached. The book has been
written for a broad and diverse readership ranging from undergraduates to
graduate students, researchers, clinicians, engineers, and also even managers, investors, and lawyers.
The book starts with a historical
overview of what the author believes
are the origins of microarrays. Here,
however, the author forgot to mention
the European scientists (in particular
R. P. Ekins) who developed microarray-based methods for binding assays
as early as the 1980s. On the other
hand, one can easily follow the major
line of discoveries, including DNA polymerase, the polymerase chain reaction,
reverse transcriptase, and recombinant
DNA technology, up to the first hybrid-
7 2004 Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim
ization experiments on glass substrates.
Chapters 2–4 cover some basics of
chemistry, biochemistry, and molecular
biology that are needed to understand
microarray technology.
The next five chapters describe in
detail various aspects of microarray fabrication. A crucial step in the creation of
microarrays with optimal performance
is surface chemistry. This aspect is very
well presented in a separate chapter.
The influence of surface properties on
the quality of the final product is described in a vivid and illustrative way. Here
the interested reader is provided with a
knowledge of quality parameters, materials, surface chemistry, surface interaction, and reaction kinetics. The most
common substrates are glass surfaces
onto which reactive molecules are introduced by using organosilane chemistry.
The author describes strategies and
gives many practical hints for coupling
DNA to the activated surface. The
knowledge of how to prepare a highquality surface does not itself automatically lead to a successful analysis. It also
depends on a thorough understanding of
the target molecules, and also of the
“probes” used in each experiment.
Here the term “target” is used for a molecule tethered to a (microarray) substrate, while the “probe” is a labeled
molecule that reacts with the (complementary) target molecule. Approaches
to the preparation of the target are
briefly described and compared. One
learns about probe preparation by
using a synthetic approach, labeling
methods, and amplification schemes.
Since fluorescence is the dominant
probe-labeling principle, the section
about probes focuses on fluorescent
The chemical and biochemical part
is supplemented by a section about manufacture, including basic manufacturing
requirements, motion-control systems,
contact and noncontact printing techniques, photolithography and micromirrors, a section on microarray detection,
data quantification, mining, and modeling. Components of current microarray
detection instruments, such as scanners
and imagers, detectors, mirrors, filters,
and lasers are described, and the physics
of fluorescence and fluorescent labels is
discussed from a practical standpoint.
The discussion about the key criteria
for evaluating the observations is also
of great importance. More technical
aspects are presented in the part
explaining clean-room technology. A
summary of the methodological fundamentals for the different steps in array
development provides a road map for
obtaining optimal experimental results
with microarray analysis, always connected to the questions “what, why,
and how?”. The reader will also find
an appreciation of the achievements of
gene-chip technology in revolutionizing
health care, of gene expression, profiling, and genotyping, and a brief, rather
personal, evaluation of novel technologies.
Separate chapters discuss commercial opportunities and future trends.
The author foresees the introduction of
chips into all areas of life: from clinical
diagnosis to the control of mental and
physical fitness, and the identification
7 2004 Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim
of potential addicts, smokers, drug abusers, and alcoholics—a rather frightening
picture of a totalitarian control system.
Each chapter contains a set of questions that may be used as an aid for
teaching and learning. Answers to the
questions are given at the end of the
textbook. Furthermore, each chapter
includes a selection of references for further reading, recommended textbooks
for the various aspects discussed, and
also practical guidelines for performing
experiments. The extensive literature
collection, covering about 100 pages of
the book, is a very good source of information, but is perhaps unnecessary in a
textbook. A minor criticism is that a
few of the pictures originally made for
color reproduction appear in blackand-white and therefore lack contrast,
a shortcoming that will most likely be
corrected in the next edition.
This book is a valuable addition to
the already existing book in the “Practical Approach” series (Ed.: M. Schena).
It will certainly complement the books
and the huge number of scientific
papers in the field. I enjoyed reading
the text, as it has been written in an
entertaining way, and I strongly recommend the book to everyone interested
in this fascinating new field. It is easily
readable and well illustrated it will
thus also attract nonspecialists.
Ulla Wollenberger
Institut f:r Biologie und Biochemie
Universit)t Potsdam, Golm (Germany)
DOI: 10.1002/anie.200385070
Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2004, 43, 2059 – 2060
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microarrays, analysis, mark, schenk
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