Book review – Biochemical Pathways: An Atlas of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Second Edition



original image

The second edition of Biochemical pathways – An Atlas of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology is finally available – Prof. Sang Yup Lee (KAIST and co-Editor-in-Chief of Biotechnology Journal) reviews the long-awaited and highly anticipated book.

Biochemical Pathways: An Atlas of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Second Edition by Gerhard Michal and Dietmar Schomburg (Editors), Wiley, 2012, 416 pages. ISBN: 978-0-470-14684-2

Dr. Sang Yup Lee*, * Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)

original image

In my lab, working on metabolic engineering of microorganisms for the past 18 years at Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), the “Biochemical pathways wall chart” currently distributed by Roche Diagnostics serves as a platform of everyday reference and discussion among the group members including students, postdocs, and myself. In 1999, when I was expanding my lab to work on in silico modeling and simulation for genome-scale metabolic engineering, the first edition of this book Biochemical Pathways was published. This book, not too scary to read thanks to its compact size, served as a great reading for the incoming graduate students from the biology department and the chemical engineering department alike.

The biochemistry of metabolism and metabolic pathways has advanced so rapidly over the past decade, and thus the information and knowledge presented nicely in the first edition inevitably has become outdated over recent years. The second edition of Biochemical Pathways has been published just at the right time. The editors and the contributing authors did such a nice job in updating not only the new information but also the metabolic pathway charts, which must have been a tremendous amount of work.

The second edition of “Biochemical Pathways” has been published just at the right time.

The book starts with two chapters on general biochemistry backgrounds and cells and cellular contents, which will serve a good revisit for students of all disciplines. Chapter 3 is the ESSENCE of this book, which covers the detailed and updated metabolism, metabolic pathways, metabolites and enzymes. The chapter covers detailed metabolic and some regulatory aspects of sub-metabolisms on carbohydrate metabolism and citric acid cycle, amino acid metabolism, tetrapyrroles, lipids and glycolipids, steroids and isoprenoids, cofactors and vitamins, nucleic acid metabolism in bacteria and eukaryotes, special bacterial metabolism including that of antimicrobials, electron transfer reactions and oxidative phosphorylation, photosynthesis, and plant secondary metabolism. Since these sub-metabolisms cannot be studied without other cellular biosynthetic machineries, Chapter 4 is devoted to protein biosynthesis, modification and degradation. Starting with protein biosynthesis in bacteria and eukaryotes, related topics of cell cycle, posttranslational modification, and protein folding, transport/targeting and degradation are covered. Chapter 5 is a bit misplaced as it covers viruses. Although very nicely written, it could have been better if the chapter was put at the end of the book; on second thought, however, this book does not necessarily need to be read in sequence. Chapter 6 covers transport of molecules. It starts with general transport mechanisms and components involved in, which is followed by transport of lipid in plasma and oxygen transport by hemoglobin. Chapter 7 covers signal transduction and cellular communication. The chapter being rather short obviously could not cover all the aspects of signal transduction and communication, but nicely summarizes important topics of intercellular signal transduction, nerve conduction and synaptic transmission, intracellular communication, tyrosine kinase system, apoptosis, steroid and thyroid hormone receptors, and cyclic GMP-dependent pathways. Chapter 8 is about the immune system, which covers general background on the immune system including generation of immune response, pathologic immune responses, and adhesion of leukocytes. Chapter 9 is on blood coagulation and fibrinolysis, which includes topics such as hemostasis, coagulation propagation and control, platelets, and fibrinolysis. The final chapter covers systems biology and biological networks, modeling of metabolic fluxes, and resources for biochemical pathways and related information. accompanying CD/DVD and a more extensive chapter on systems biology would have been useful...

Although satisfied with this nicely written book, I, if I may, have two suggestions for further improvement for the editors/authors' consideration. First, it would be very useful if there is an accompanying CD/DVD that includes all the metabolic charts/pathways, so that they can be used in the classroom. Second, the last chapter on systems biology and metabolic flux analysis is of much importance nowadays, but is rather short. Although I understand that it cannot be too extensive, some more detailed coverage of the topics would have been appreciated. Overall, this long-awaited second edition perfectly meets my expectation. This book will serve as an excellent accompanying reference book to the standard biochemistry and metabolic engineering classes at both the undergraduate and graduate level. Also, it will be a great reference in any lab working in the fields of all biological disciplines, biochemical engineering, and metabolic engineering. Before closing, I want to thank the editors and contributing authors of this second edition for having done such a wonderful job in comprehensively describing tremendous amount of knowledge and information in an easy-to-follow way. Two thumbs up!

Dr. Sang Yup Lee

Distinguished Professor; Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering; Dean, College of Life Science and Bioengineering; Head, Metabolic Engineering National Research Laboratory; Director, BioProcess Engineering Research Center; Director, Bioinformatics Research Center; Director, Center for Systems and Synthetic Biotechnology; Co-Director, Institute for the BioCentury; Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)


About the book editors

original image

Dr. Dietmar Schomburg is Professor at University of Cologne Institute for Biochemistry in Cologne, Germany. He received his Diploma in Chemistry in 1974, his Ph.D. in Chemistry in 1976, and completed his Habilitation for Structural Chemistry in 1985, all at Carolo-Wilhelmina in Braunschweig, Germany. His research interests include protein structure and function, structural biochemistry, bioinformatics, and enzyme information/metabolic networks. He is also well-known for establishing BRENDA, the main source of enzyme classification data available to the community.

original image

Dr. Gerhard Michal is retired from Boehringer Mannheim GmbH, and is well known for compiling the original “Biochemical Pathways” wall chart that graces almost every laboratory and office of biochemists worldwide.