Cell Biology


Calcium signaling plays a critical role in diverse processes such as development, muscle function, and neurobiology. CSHL Press recently released Calcium Signaling, a new book that reviews the biology of calcium signaling—from the channels, pumps, buffers, sensors, and receptors that transport and modulate calcium signals to the physiological processes that are regulated.

“This volume provides a detailed expert snapshot of the calcium signaling field as it stands right now and gives some insight into the history of the discoveries,” write the editors, Martin Bootman, Michael Berridge, James Putney, and Llewelyn Roderick.  “Reading through the chapters provides insight into both the generic nature of calcium signaling and also its unique tissue- and function-specific characteristics.”

Calcium Signaling is an indispensable reference for biochemists, cell and developmental biologists, and physiologists seeking a comprehensive treatment of calcium biology. For more information on the book, click here.

The Biology of Lipids: Trafficking, Regulation, and FunctionSince the pioneering work of Gorter and Grendel (1925), it has been well-known that a lipid bilayer forms the core of a cell’s membrane. But for many decades, the focus of membrane research was on proteins.

Our latest book, The Biology of Lipids (edited by Kai Simons), gives lipids their due.  Contributors explore the synthesis, metabolism, and distribution of lipid species in the cell; the composition of lipid rafts and their roles in protein trafficking and signaling; and the biophysical behavior of lipids and membranes.  They also discuss models and techniques to study lipid dynamics and to characterize cellular lipidomes.

“The protein-only focus will soon be gone,” writes Simons. “Membrane researchers are now starting to include lipids in their repertoire.  [W]e have to study both the lipids and the proteins together to come to grips with this fascinating fluid.”

Nuclear Organization and FunctionBiology’s central organelle, the nucleus, was the focus of the 75th annual Cold Spring Harbor Symposium on Quantitative Biology.  We’ve just released a new volume based on the presentations by the investigators who gathered at this meeting, held last June.  The book, entitled Nuclear Organization and Function, reviews the latest advances in research into nuclear structure, the organization of the genome within the nucleus, and spatiotemporal coordination of nuclear processes. The topics examined include nuclear domains, chromatin organization, transcription and RNA processing, DNA replication, nuclear reprogramming, and epigenetics. Cancer, premature aging syndromes, and other diseases that may be associated with altered nuclear organization are also covered.

Nuclear Organization and Function is available in paperback and hardcover.  Libraries that purchase the hardcover edition of the book are entitled to institutional online access to it at http://symposium.cshlp.org.

Means to an End: Apoptosis and Other Cell Death MechanismsDoug Green’s recent book Means to an End is given a positive review in the current issue of CHOICE.  In the review, Sally Sommers Smith (Boston University) says that this “elegant, accessible book” provides a comprehensive and current account of processes by which cells in the body die.  The book includes “welcome running commentary on the evolution of apoptosis,” and “clearly shows how study of cell death mechanisms can aid understanding of both embryonic development and human diseases such as cancer.”

Sommers Smith says that this “improbably thrilling read” reveals “not only the hard work associated with cell biology but also the joy of its eureka moments.”  She says that the book is “highly recommended” for “upper-division undergraduates through professionals.”

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. (more…)

Eric Baehrecke, Professor of Cancer Biology at University of Massachusetts Medical School, has given Means To An End a fantastic review in Cell. In his review, Baehrecke states that the book “gracefully covers a wide variety of subjects and distills our knowledge of cell death into an accessible text that is enjoyable to read and appropriate for a broad audience.”

Eric goes on to praise Green for covering “more territory than many specialized books by elimination of detail”, concluding that Means To An End is “a must read” and that “students, clinicians, and experts in the field” will all benefit from reading it.

For more information on Means to an End, see the book’s companion site.

Unlike the genome, which is essentially identical in every somatic cell of an organism, the proteome varies across cells, and there is no self-replicating amplification mechanism for proteins like the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for DNA. Because of this, methods that extract, separate, detect, and identify proteins from extremely small samples are needed.  In the current issue of Cold Spring Harbor Protocols, Duke University’s Erich Jarvis and colleagues provide such a method, Microproteomics: Quantitative Proteomic Profiling of Small Numbers of Laser-Captured Cells.  The protocol uses laser-capture microdissection to isolate pure cell populations from tissue sections and nanoscale liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry to simultaneously identify and quantify hundreds of proteins from samples as small as 1000 cells. It is one of this month’s featured articles and is freely accessible here.

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