Molecular Biology 2nd Edition
The last quarter of the 20th century saw major scientific revolutions in genetics and computer technology. Indeed, handling the vast amounts of genetic information generated nowadays depends on advanced computer technology. This book reflects this massive surge in our understanding of the molecular foundations of genetics. Today, we now know that genes are much more than the abstract entities proposed over a century ago by Mendel. Genes are segments of DNA molecules, carrying encoded information. Indeed, genes have now become chemical reagents to be manipulated in the test tube in ever more complex ways. Over the next half century our understanding of how living organisms function at the molecular level, together with our ability to intervene, will expand in ways we are only just beginning to perceive. A full understanding of how living organisms function includes an appreciation of how cells operate at the molecular level. This is of vital importance to all of us as it becomes ever more clear that molecular factors underlie many health problems and diseases. While cancer is the “classic” case of a disease that only became understandable when its genetic basis was revealed, it is not the only one by any means. Today, the molecular aspects of medicine are expanding rapidly and it is becoming possible to tailor clinical treatment personally by taking into account the genetic make-up of individual patients, an area known as personal genomics.
This book is intended as a survey-oriented textbook for upper-division students in a variety of biological subdisciplines. In particular, it is aimed at final-year undergraduates and beginning graduate students. This book does not attempt to be exhaustive in its coverage, even as a textbook. There is a second book in this series, entitled “Biotechnology,” which emphasizes the more practical applications of modern genetics. We hope that both books together effectively survey the foundations and applications
of modern molecular genetics.
Some of the students using this book will be well-versed in the basics of modern molecular biology, having taken courses in genetics, biochemistry, and cell biology. However, others will not be so well-prepared, in part due to the continuing influx of students into molecular biology from biology programs that are not oriented in a molecular direction. For them we have tried to create a book whose early chapters cover the basics before launching out into the depths. The first unit of five chapters covers basic cell structure and genetics. This is followed by a survey of DNA, RNA, and proteins and how they interact to provide the cell with genetic information. Because of the continuing interest in applying molecular biology to an everwidening array of topics, we have tried to avoid overdoing detail (depth) in favor of breadth. Molecular biology is applicable to more than just human medicine and health. The genetic revolution has also greatly impacted other important areas such as agriculture, veterinary medicine, animal behavior, evolution, and microbiology. Students of these, and related disciplines, will all benefit from an improved understanding of molecular biology.
Changes in the Second Edition
This edition includes significant changes in comparison to the first edition of Molecular Biology.
The flood of new sequence information has necessitated updates to many areas of the book, especially Genomics and Systems Biology (Ch. 9), Proteomics (Ch. 15) Bacterial Genetics (Ch. 25), and Molecular Evolution (Ch. 26). Perhaps the most rapidly-changing area of molecular biology at present is the ever-expanding role of RNA. Although scattered items occur throughout the book, particularly in Unit 4, most of the major novel RNA topics, such as CRISPR and long-non-coding RNA, are grouped together in Chapter 18, Regulation at the RNA level.
In this second edition we have re-ordered some of the chapters in a more logical order. In particular, chapters on DNA technology and genomics that were toward the end of the book have been moved far forward. This reflects the much greater role that sequence analysis and genomics have come to play in the last two or three years. We have also divided the book into modules, each of several related chapters. The first module contains introductory material that experienced students can either skip or skim through rapidly for the reasons cited above. Sections within chapters have been numbered to aid in cross-reference. Review questions and conceptual problems are now provided at the end of each chapter.
A new text element, “Focus on Relevant Research,” now appears throughout the book. These feature discussions of recent papers in the field published by Cell Press. The content focuses on helping the student learn how to read and understand primary literature in hopes of preparing them for the scientific world. The complete articles are also provided on the accompanying website for easy reference by students and instructors.
The website also includes access to the Focus on Relevant Research Case Studies that discuss the main topics of each chapter and build case studies around the content make the appropriate connections to the text. Other online materials to supplement the text include flashcards, animations, quizzes to prepare for tests, and PowerPoint® slides with images for note-taking. Students also have access to online references as they can then be directly linked to Internet databases, such as PubMed® or ScienceDirect®. Instructors also have access to the images from the book and test banks based on the text and accompanying journal articles.
We look forward to hearing about your experiences, whether you use our book for teaching or studying. Please send your comments, criticisms, and advice to [email protected] Thank you!
David Clark and Nan Pazdernik,
Carbondale, Illinois, April 2011
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