One of the most basic characteristics of all living things is their ability to metabolize biomolecules.  But for the past several decades, research on metabolism has been overshadowed by advances in other areas such as molecular biology.

“Molecular biologists needed no distracting thoughts about the metabolic state of a cell to discover microRNAs [or] the reprogramming of somatic cells into pluripotent stem cells,” writes Steven L. McKnight (UT Southwestern) in a recent Science article.

However, the field of metabolism is currently undergoing a revival, thanks to recent work on topics such as cancer, circadian rhythms, and longevity.  It has become increasingly evident that the physiological state of a cell depends not only on signaling pathways, transcription factors, and other regulatory players, but also on its intermediary metabolism.

“The more sticky problems that required attention to the dynamics of metabolism and that were pushed aside for decades now loom as interesting and important challenges,” writes McKnight.  “The resurrection of research involving metabolism is clearly upon us.”

So, what do we know about intermediary metabolism?  What is the current state of the field?

Yeast Intermediary MetabolismYeast Intermediary Metabolism, a new book by Dan Fraenkel (Harvard Medical School), provides a comprehensive and straightforward treatment of metabolism in the model eukaryote Saccharomyces cerevisiae.  Topics include central metabolic pathways; catabolism; fermentation and respiration; the biosynthesis of small molecules, including cofactors; transport and compartments; storage molecules; inorganic ions; stress and metabolic toxicity; and the global analysis of metabolism.

The book also addresses the history of the field, describes the thinking that led to key experiments, and identifies areas where our knowledge remains thin.

Yeast Intermediary Metabolism will be useful for not only yeast specialists but all investigators of eukaryotic biology seeking a reference on metabolism.