Book review: Molecular Biology, Genes to Proteins, 4th Edition
Burton E Tropp.
Publishers: Jones & Bartlett Learning
Publ. date: April 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4496-0092-1 (paperback) : 1000 pages.
Published price: £39.99 [BSCB members can purchase at discount]
For me most books fall into one of three categories rather
like I consider restaurant meals.
The first is the traditional 'Sunday Lunch' type meal:
plenty of good wholesome food prepared in the way that it has been prepared and
presented down the years. Some might say 'a bit traditional and heavy' but one
rarely hears complaints about not feeling satisfied afterwards.
The second type of meal is one in which the chef is more of
a creative food artist than a traditional cook. The food is there but often in
a more limited quantity and adorned with sauces drizzled on with varying
degrees of artistry and with the addition of interesting, but sometimes
distracting, extras such as dried seaweed or flower petals.
Thirdly there is the type of meal that appears acceptable
and adequate, satisfies you at the time but is not memorable two hours later.
Using this analogy, Tropp's Molecular Biology, Genes to
Proteins, fourth edition, falls into meal category 1. There is plenty of good wholesome
material using a 'recipe' devised by the author of the first edition, David
Freifelder in 1983, (the same year that Benjamin Lewin's Genes I was
published). Freifelder used a 'layering approach', building up from a basic to
more complicated level, and in which he 'emphasised basic molecular
processing'. Tropp has continued
this time tested recipe and layering approach by ensuring key concepts and
techniques are introduced early in the first three sections of the book.
The 4th edition content has been thoroughly updated
especially in the fields of replication, transcription and translation. A new
chapter has been added about regulatory RNA and new parts included on RNA
structure, the ubiquitin proteasome proteolytic pathway, epigenetic programming,
imprinting and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells). Some of these parts
are necessarily brief but at least they are included.
Colour printing is used usefully in both tables and diagrams
but the book does not have tinted panels or boxes dedicated to specific items
as found in some first edition newer books in the field. I liked the extensive
(twenty-five page) detailed contents list, written in a declarative style, at
the beginning of the book. These statements are repeated at the beginning of the
appropriate chapter just before the chapter overview. If you combine the two
you have a useful chapter summary. I like having a chapter summary and missed
this in Tropp, but I found going back to the start of the chapter useful.
I very much liked how the end of chapter 'Further Reading'
suggestions were grouped under headings such as 'General', 'RNA Structure',
'The RNA World Hypothesis', and so on.
Accessing the Student Companion Website mentioned in the
International Edition of the book is not as direct in the UK as it is in the
USA, but access is available. To obtain an access code the reader will need to
email firstname.lastname@example.org who is the publisher's manager in the UK. Although indirect, this service means
that lecturers can apply for a number of access codes for their students even
though the readers may be using library copies of the book. Unfortunately at the present time there
is nothing in the International Editions on sale in the UK to indicate that
this facility is available. The reviewer is informed that future publicity
material will indicate this availability. A Media CD ROM of Lecture Outline
Slides and images in PowerPoint is available to registered Instructors.
As I found my way round this volume I liked it more and
more. It does not have the ‘signposting' that is so good in Lewin's Genes and
you have to 'know the book' to make best use of it. To use the meal analogy,
this book provides a good solid nutritional meal and readers will feel well