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Programmed Cell Death in Animals and Plants.
  1. J Crocker

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    Bryant JA, Hughes SG, Garl JM, eds. (£67.50.) BIOS Scientific Publishers, 2000. ISBN 1 859 96167 3.

    Having been involved in the field of apoptosis for the past five or so years, I was pleased to receive a copy of this book for review. It has been interesting to observe the progress of apoptosis as an electron microscopic curiosity described nearly 30 years ago to its appearance and evolution as a pivotal factor in both normal physiology and pathological conditions. The complexity and scope of apoptosis impinges on oncogenes, surface receptors, growth factors, and cell signalling. Indeed, even senescence and immortalisation are involved in this process and, on a day to day basis, any lymphoma pathologist would be aware of the value of examining sections for the bcl-2 oncoprotein as a means of distinguishing reactive and malignant lymphoid follicles.

    The central importance of apoptosis in normal disordered growth and death is underlined by the fact that this book exists. Thus—for example, I would not have expected in general to have scientific books on my shelves that involve botanical studies. It seems likely that the more conserved a molecule, group of molecules, or process is, then the more centrally important it is and, indeed, this is borne out in the field of programmed cell death. The chapters here range from plant cell death to cytokines and inflammation in humans and to carcinogenesis. The importance of apoptosis in viral cytopathic effects is included, as are—for example, the generation of increased permeability in mitochrondria and so called “death receptor signalling”. The first chapter includes in its title “from worms to wombats” and this says much about this book; indeed, we even have contributions on Brassica!

    Inevitably, I would recommend this book to anyone involved in work on the cell cycle and, of course, cell death and I think only the most narrow minded of pathologists would not enjoy the chapters on botany and lower organisms in general. Many of the references are from 1999 and this book and it contributors and editors are to be commended for keeping such specialised text up to date.

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