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The Molecular Basis of Cell Cycle and Growth Control.
  1. C E Gillet,
  2. D M Barnes

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    Stein GS, Baserga R, Giordano A, et al, eds. (£45.50.) Wiley, 1998. ISBN 0 471 15706 6.

    In recent years, there has been an explosion in the number of publications about the mechanisms that control the cell cycle and how their deregulation can lead to cellular atypia and potentially carcinogenesis. It has become increasingly hard to find review articles that are both up to date and that look at the cell cycle in its entirety. This book, we are delighted to say, attains these criteria. While it starts at the beginning of the study of the cell cycle and attributes important findings to leading investigators, it takes the reader on a journey through the controlling mechanisms of the cell cycle, gradually increasing the detail and amount of information in this very complex subject. Each chapter is written in such a way that it stands alone, providing a rounded review of the topic in question, and yet the chapters also roll together building upon each other.

    The first few chapters are devoted to the actions that take place in the different phases of the cell cycle and how these stages link to each other as the concentrations of the associated proteins rise and fall. PL Puri et al provide a comprehensive overview of the molecules involved in the cell cycle and how these interact to regulate its progression. Thankfully, they also differentiate between the nomenclature used for genes and proteins associated with the yeast cell cycle and those used for mammalian cells, an area that often causes confusion and unfortunately leads to the erroneous interchange of the two sets of molecules. G Prem Veer Reddy and later Greenfield Sluder et al expand upon the mechanism of action and regulation of DNA synthesis and mitosis, respectively; areas that are often glossed over in cell cycle reviews. Gary Stein et al elaborate on the transcriptional control of gene expression as the cell traverses from one phase to another and, in particular, they describe how this is used to ensure cell fidelity at the multiple checkpoints through the cycle. This is followed by a lengthy article by David Denhardt, who discusses the reasons why a cell either does or does not proliferate, the effect of exogenous and endogenous stimuli, and the cascade of events that occurs from the initial stimulus to the cell dividing.

    The latter part of the book changes its emphasis slightly and looks at the ultimate outcome for a cell: differentiation or death. M Cristina Cardoso and Heinrich Leonhardt highlight the information currently available about the often forgotten act of terminal differentiation, something which should not of course be confused with cell quiescence. They continue to discuss the mechanisms involved in the decision of a cell to apoptose and provide evidence of the dual role that some molecules play in proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis. Their final contribution is to provide an excellent review of DNA methylation; the current understanding and its role in carcinogenesis.

    Another topic that has often led to confusion is cell senescence: how this differs from terminal differentiation and its relation to apoptosis. These concepts are clarified by Judith Campisi, who discusses the need for a finite cell life span and how some cells can bypass these protective mechanisms and become immortalised.

    At first glance the final chapter by Bruno Calabretta and Tomasz Skorski does not appear to fit into the theme of the book. However, they use a chronic myeloid leukaemia model as an example of how genes and oncogenes associated with the transformation and maintenance of this disease can be targeted using antisense DNA. Hence, they show that the in depth study of the mechanisms controlling the cell cycle, and how these are altered in tumour cells, is not only of general interest but has great potential in the treatment of malignant disease.

    The book makes very good use of diagrams to clarify the text; in particular, there are several colour plates in the middle of the book of both photomicrographs and diagrams, which are replicated in black and white at the relevant point in the text. As with any multiauthor book, there is repetition of information, particularly because the cell cycle is introduced at the beginning of each chapter. This does not detract from the book, in fact it makes it easier when reading about one particular aspect of the cell cycle, and if needs be one can always skip over these introductions.

    This is a well written and constructed book on factors that influence cell cycle and growth. It is extremely well referenced and we would recommend it to any one with an interest in the cell cycle.

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