A minor marvel in great scale

Introduction to Protein Science - Principles of Proteomics. First edition
February 25, 2005

Proteins are nothing short of remarkable - tiny machines whose activities and functions are indispensable for life. The cytoskeleton of cells is protein; hair, skin and fingernails are all forms of the protein keratin; the passing of information through signal transduction networks is a function of protein kinases; enzymes that speed up chemical reactions are proteins; even the human immune system is based on a family of proteins - the immunoglobulins. Combine this with the fact that amino acid sequences are now available for more than 1 million proteins and a sense of the significance of protein science emerges.

Introduction to Protein Science places the study of proteins within the biological context in which they make sense.

The book begins with a description of the ribosome and its place in the "central dogma" of molecular biology: DNA makes RNA makes protein. Without that understanding, Arthur Lesk argues, the basis of information transfer from nucleic acid to protein cannot be appreciated. As the book unfolds, the reader is taken logically, succinctly and clearly through the basics of protein structure and function to more specialised chapters on protein interactions and proteins in disease. En route is an excellent introduction to the evolution of protein structure and function and a very useful section on computational approaches for predicting protein function. The text is nicely laid out and complemented by an extensive range of colour figures; each chapter lists learning goals and contains a worthy collection of text boxes, case studies, problems and items for additional reading.

Principles of Proteomics , while sharing many similarities, is targeted at researchers who require a working understanding of the global analysis of proteins (proteomics) and especially the technology behind the science. The early chapters contain much useful information on strategies for protein separation, identification and quantification. The information is presented in a comprehensive style and the critical appraisal of the different approaches is valuable.

The latter chapters of the book deal with advanced applications in proteomics. These include structural proteomics, interaction proteomics and the study of protein modification - in each case the emphasis is on how analyses can be carried out on a large scale. And it is the scale that is truly impressive.

Proteomics opens the door to a fine-scale analysis of phenotype - the connection between the genotype and phenotype - in a way that is revolutionary.

While Principles of Proteomics is a specialised account of the technology of proteomics, there is something in the grand scale of the science that makes this a valuable read even for those not immediately contemplating the study of proteins on such a scale.

Paul B. Rainey is professor of evolutionary genetics, University of Auckland, New Zealand, and Oxford University.

Introduction to Protein Science: Architecture, Function, and Genomics. First edition

Author - Arthur M. Lesk
Publisher - Oxford University Press
Pages - 310
Price - £.99
ISBN - 0 19 926511 9

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