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Oxford Dictionary of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

(A. Smith, S. Datta, G. Smith, P. Cambell, R. Bently, and H. McKonzie (eds.) Oxford University Press, Oxford-New York-Tokyo, 1997, 752 p., $65)

This book follows a classical pattern of dictionaries. It contains more than 17,000 key terms on biochemistry and molecular biology arranged in certain order. Each term is accompanied by short but capacious and modern information. Very often, a key word is accompanied by related terms that provide provide a good opportunity to get exhaustive information on a given problem. The dictionary contains information on a large amount of chemical compounds used in various areas of biochemistry and molecular biology. It has about 1,000 structural formulas. Much attention is paid to international nomenclature of various substances including biologically active compounds, enzymes, pharmacological preparations, proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, etc. Less used older names are given as historical references. In particular, this is related to enzymes and certain proteins, which represent about 2,000 items. The dictionary contains many widely used abbreviations and symbols of compounds, buffer systems, etc. which are explained in the text.

The chronology of the development of biochemistry and molecular biology is given in detail and Nobel Prize winners in biochemistry and biology and their contribution to biochemistry and molecular biology are listed in the book. The description of transamination contains an acknowledgement of the contribution of Russian scientists A. E. Braunstein and M. G. Kritzman, the discoverers of this reaction, to this field.

The dictionary contains eight appendices. In appendix A, Greek symbols often used in scientific literature are listed. Appendix B contains information on all main handbooks on nomenclature and certain recommendations on this subject. Appendix C includes information on international unions and societies (postal and electronic addresses, telephone and fax numbers, and names of contact persons) such as the International Council of Scientific Societies, the International Union on Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (IUBMB), the International Union on Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), the International Union of Biological Sciences (IUBS), and many others. Appendix D consists of three parts. The first includes a dictionary of terms that are frequently used during discussions in the Internet. The second part is a guide on the search of key words using the Internet. The third part contains Internet addresses that can provide new useful information including periodical literature, new books, databases on structures and nucleic acids, etc. Appendix E includes explanations of the main terms of bioinformatics language (e.g., “homology”, “domain”, “module”, “functional site”, etc.). It also contains Internet addresses and references that can be used by specialists working in bioinformatics. Appendix F contains a list of restrictases and methylases listed by their specificity and commercial sources. Appendix H lists some Latin names mentioned in the dictionary.

The book is generally characterized by high scientific level and a good combination of a classical dictionary with modern elements of computer informatics.

Undoubtedly, this dictionary will be very useful for specialists working in molecular biology, bioorganic chemistry, and biotechnology. The book will certainly attract attention of pedagogues, PhD students, and students of universities, medical, pedagogical, and agricultural institutes. This dictionary will soon become a tabletop book for many educational and research laboratories. Translation of this book into Russian would be very useful for Russian science.

Doctor of Biological Sciences
G. Ya. Wiederschain