Connexins: A Guide is a practical and valuable reference and text covering a wide scope of information about the connexin family of membrane channel proteins. The editors and contributing authors intend for this cutting-edge work to be informative to scientists wishing to learn about the field, as well as to those who are active researchers in this area. Connexins: A Guide masterfully addresses specific needs of the scientific community; it is a comprehensive and comprehensible narrative of the uncommonly diverse connexin field, making previously hard-to-find information easily accessible, while also presenting intelligible insights into the extensive experimental methods and conceptual frameworks necessary to appreciate and understand the important roles that connexin channel proteins play in health and disease.
Publisher: Humana Press Inc.
Number of pages: 573
Weight: 1046 g
Dimensions: 235 x 155 x 31 mm
Edition: 2009 ed.
From the reviews:
"When I first heard of the publication of a new book on connexin, the proteins responsible for the formation of gap junction channels, I was quite puzzled as there seemed to be no shortage of such monographs having appeared during this decade and another one hardly needed. Examination and reading of the book, however, has convinced me of the contrary. For one thing, Harris and Locke, the two editors, had in mind to produce not just a collection of review articles contributed by the usual suspects, but a true reference book that would stand the test of time and, so it seems to me, they may well have succeeded in their effort.
Connexins have been studied as a family for over two decades, but interest in the distinctive structure they form, the gap junction, has lasted for over 40 years. With the discovery of human genetic diseases linked to connexin mutations and the increasing evidence that functional changes of connexins may be also associated to pathological conditions of the cardiovascular system and the brain, which are the main health concerns in developing countries, it is safe to predict that research on connexins and on drugs that modulate their channel properties has a bright future. The book is broadly subdivided into parts: "Fundamentals of connexin biology", which reviews the molecular biology, structure, biochemistry, electrophysiology, pharmacology and gating of this diverse family of channels, and "Connexins in organ systems and processes", which provides a sweeping overview of connexins in their physiological habitat. Perhaps the Editors should have adopted a balder and more original approach, but it is also a fact that such an encyclopedic layout has its advantages. First and foremost, each chapter is and will remain an invaluable source referencing primary articles that span over three decades of gap junction research. Second, the basic features of connexins and of the channels they compose are scrutinized with a magnifying lens to offer the most complete picture of our current understanding and knowledge gaps in this area. It's a pity that the crystal structure of a connexin channel, which is the most remarkable achievement of the decade, was described just after publication of the book; yet this breakthrough does not diminish the impact of a wealth of data summarized in Chapters 2, 3 and 7.
On the weak side, in the second part, the description of certain organs only with respect of connexin expression is of limited interest because of a too narrow approach and these chapters are likely to have a shorter half-life as reference articles. Of course, we now know thanks to mouse and, especially, human genetics, that certain connexins exert crucial functions and that their failure is associated to a number of human disorders with a well-defined phenotype. Despite this reservation, all chapters have been carefully prepared and it would be difficult to single out the most readable ones, although it may be clear by now that my preference goes to those making Part 1.
The book has been well edited, and the efforts made by Harris and Locke to avoid the stylistic discrepancies that often plague other collections of essays are a plus.
In summary, this is a most welcome addition that I recommend without hesitations to specialists and students joining their labs, as the reference book in the field. It is to be hoped that "Connexins: A Guide" will also be considered by libraries (if they still exist in Google time) of Colleges, Universities and Departments that emphasize the study of cell biology." (Dr Roberto Bruzzone, Chief Executive Officer, HKU-Pasteur Research Centre, Hong Kong)
"If you are looking for a book of methods used in the gap junction field, then the book "Connexins: a guide" by Harris and Locke, despite its name, is not what you want. However, if you are looking for a timely and comprehensive review of the broad field of gap junction research, this is an excellent volume to have on your shelf. It is of value to both the expert in the field (every major lab would benefit from a copy, if nothing else, for its comprehensive reference listing in each topic area) as we well as scientists from other fields who have an interest in one or more aspects of this intriguing and growing area. Its comprehensive nature makes it less suitable for lay readers or even as a reference for classes, unless specific chapters are taken. However, as noted below, the individual chapters do work as "stand alone " reviews.
"Connexins: a Guide" is divided into two sections, one on the structure, function and regulation of these channels and the other on their specific roles in different tissues or disease states. Each major section is then further subdivided into chapters, written by some of the world's experts on specific topics. Although there are clearly diverse writing styles among the chapters, a significant effort has been made to maintain a common overall format that is very helpful as a reader moves from chapter to chapter. The first section is presented with pleasingly little specialist jargon, and when it is used, it is well defined. This part of the book is most valuable to folks within the field, as it provides a detailed consideration of the central tenets of gap junction structure, their electrophysiological properties in terms of gating, their permeabilities and all aspects of their regulation, including transcription, biosynthesis and degradation, covalent modification and gating. The second half of the book on the function of connexins in different tissues and diseases is very useful to both experts in the field, as well as researchers whose interests focus more on specific organ systems. Each chapter provides a independent review of the roles that connexins play in particular systems. This could be a particularly useful resource in teaching, with so many graduate classes now often having and organ based approach to problems.
As might be expected in a book with such a broad cross-section of guest authors, there is some variability in the quality of individual chapters, although the editors have clearly worked hard to maintain a level of consistency in the style and layout. The variations are more that some chapters provide a truly detailed and comprehensive consideration of an area that is better suited for students of the field (e.g. Chapter 2, by Yeager, on Channel Structure and Chapter 7 by Harris and Locke on Channel Permeability), while others present a broader stroke overview that is very appropriate for non-experts (e.g. Chapter 11 by Solan and Lampe on Connexin Biochemistry and Chapter 27 by Crespin et al on Connexins in Carcinogensis). It should be noted that despite the condensed nature of the latter two chapters, they nonetheless provided a comprehensive overview of their respective areas. It is slightly disappointing that a few chapters do take the opportunity to push the specific viewpoint of the authors, particularly in controversial areas such as channel structure (e.g. Chapters 3 & 4) and the role of hemichannels, (e.g., Chapters 11 and 17). However, even in these cases, the citation of the literature, including alternative viewpoints is comprehensive. Overall, this is a valuable reference volume in a field that is having increasingly broad impact on a growing number of areas. Its comprehensiveness is impressive, and it will provide a valuable resource for researchers and educators alike." (Bruce J. Nicholson, Ph.D., Chairman, Dept. of Biochemistry, University of Texas Health Sciences Center, San Antonio, TX, USA)
"As the importance of integrative biology increases, the new underpinning field of cell connectomics draws parallel attention. Intercellular communication/signaling in tissues and organs occurs universally across gap junctions, plasma membrane microdomains densely packed with aligned channels that provide direct metabolic/electrical continuity between cells. These channels are constructed of connexins, an extensive and highly conserved family of proteins that show proclivity to oligomerize in the membrane into hexameric channels, the operation of which is regulated by a range of forces.
Harris and Locke are to be highly commended for producing an encyclopaedic treatise on connexins containing tightly cross-edited contributions from 65 experts parcelled into 27 concise chapters. The first 300 pages catalogue the properties of connexins in man, mice and other vertebrates and describe how connexin channels in the plasma membrane enable chemical/electrical intercellular communication, the intracellular biogenesis pathways by which connexins are assembled into gap junctions and their breakdown, and the accessibility of cross channel trafficking to pharmacological intervention. The remaining 250 pages address comprehensively the varied functions of connexins in skin, nervous system, muscle, eye, inner ear, and in the endocrinological, respiratory, reproductive (male and female) and cardiovascular systems. A final chapter discusses knowledge of connexins and communication malfunctions in cancer. Connexin mutations result in several diseases categorized as communication-opathies and several contributors show how these mutations contribute to deafness, skin diseases, peripheral neuropathies and cataracts.
This book will appeal to a core of cell and developmental biologists, whilst the ubiquity of connexin functions also highlights their increasing importance in many allied fields especially pathology and pharmacology." (Professor W. Howard Evans, Dept. Medical Biochemistry & Immunology, Wales College of Medicine, Cardiff University, UK)
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