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Q 2010 by The International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Vol. 38, No. 1, pp. 60–61, 2010

Book Review
Molecular Cell Biology, Sixth Edition
H. Lodish, A. Berk, C. A. Kaiser, M. Krieger, M. P. Scott,
A. Bretscher, H. Ploegh, and P. Matsudaira, W. H. Freeman and Company, New York, 2007, 973 pp., ISBN-13:
978-0-716-77601-7, $138.95.

sion (the authors simply lump it into the RTK family and
focus on other growth factors). Indeed, the insulin receptor story is not only as rich as that of any other RTK family member but also its importance to human health carries more immediate impact to students. Second, the
authors continue to confuse DNA content and kinetochore/chromatid (n) value, which is most noticeable in
Figs. 20.38 and 20.39. They introduce the correct ploidy
of cells in meiosis in the Chapter 1 (Fig. 1.18). However,
when they return to meiosis in detail in Chapter 20, they
return to the confusions present in the previous two editions. Figure 20.38 erroneously labels germ cells as 4n
after the S-phase just preceding Meiosis I. This leads to
labeling the daughters of the end of Meiosis I as diploid
2n cells! One turns the page, and now the authors get it
right in the next figure (Fig. 20.39).
Although MBC acknowledges the importance of quantitative biology, the quantitative approach is still somewhat
anecdotal as it is in every cell biology text. Until a computational biologist is taken on as a coauthor in MBC (or
MBoC), I suspect quantitative biology, or even nominally
systems biology, will not become a theme in any cell
biology textbook, despite the fact the discipline has
embraced quantitative/computational methods in almost
every area of cell biology. A cell biology instructor seeking
to introduce more quantitative thinking into cell biology
might consider looking at Physical Biology of the Cell by
Phillips, Kondev, and Theriot (Garland Press, 2008).
MCB continues its features on ‘‘Applications to Medicine’’ with the list of all applications at the beginning of
the text. A similar list of experimental technologies in the
front of the text would have been nice to see as they are
scattered throughout the text, despite the presence of
two chapters on DNA-based technologies and modern
methods of cell biology involving microscopy and cell
culture. The ‘‘Classic Experiments’’ essays are well done,
but too often the real data is replaced with schematic
representations that detract from the elegance or impact
that the real results provided to scientists at the time.
The reference lists at the end of each chapter are a nice
combination of reviews and primary literature. The outstanding GRE-like questions are gone; they are supposed to be available at the website, but I could not find
them. However, each chapter does have a small collection of data-intensive problems that focus on experimental analysis, the solutions to which are published separately (MCB Student Solutions Manual, Storrie et al.,
W.H. Freeman; ISBN 1-4292-0127-4).
The student resources website also contains podcasts,
animations, and videos. Numerous podcasts are available and signaled with an iPod-like icon in select figures
in many chapters. I think the authors do a nice job with
most of the podcasts, often integrating material from different chapters, or going well beyond what is described
in the text or figure legend. The animations are rather pedestrian. On the other hand, many of the videos are

Cell biology instructors are blessed with the availability of
a variety of cell biology texts that can satisfy most tastes.
The two largest texts among them are Molecular Biology of
the Cell (MBoC) by Alberts et al. and Molecular Cell Biology
(MBC) by Lodish et al. Both are exhaustive texts with
images and figures with a large set of ancillary materials.
Across the 23–26 years that these two texts have been in
print, the writing style and visual presentation styles have
remained consistent and unique to each. My personal taste
has always favored MBC but I cannot make a reasoned
argument as to why one is better than the other.
At 973 pages, MBC is shorter than its previous editions
as well as the latest edition of MBoC. Minor reductions in
font size, image and figure sizes, as well as judicious editing have kept the text from expanding in proportion to the
exploding knowledge base with which the authors must
cope. The author list has changed with the departure of
James Darnell and Lawrence Zipursky and the addition of
Anthony Bretscher and Hidde Ploegh. The layout of the
text has been changed to bring the chapters on molecular
genetics closer to the beginning as Part II, ‘‘Genetics and
Molecular Biology,’’ immediately after the three chapters of
Part I, ‘‘Chemical and Molecular Foundations.’’ Part III,
‘‘Cell Structure and Function,’’ represents the core of modern cell biology except for the cell cycle. Part IV, ‘‘Cell
Growth and Development,’’ contains the chapter on the
cell cycle, followed by a chapter on stem cells, differentiation, cell death, and another one on the cellular aspects of
embryogeny. Previous editions ended with a chapter on
cancer; the authors have now added two nice chapters to
Part IV on the cell biology of nerve cells and the immune
response, preceding their final chapter on cancer. The
chapters begin with solid overviews and end with ‘‘Perspectives for the Future,’’ which are much improved from
previous editions. Cell signaling has become an increasingly rich topic in MBC, as chapters devoted to it
increased from one to three chapters across three editions.
The current edition now has two excellent chapters on cell
signaling, one focused on immediate metabolic responses
and the other on signaling leading to changes in gene
expression. The chapter on the integration of cell signaling
in the previous edition has been incorporated into subsequent chapters. The authors bring remarkable clarity to the
cell signaling, secretion, and cytoskeleton chapters with
regard to the emergent complexity inherent to these areas
of cell biology, and this is apparent in the narrative as well
as in the accompanying figures and tables.
I have only two major complaints about the content.
First, insulin signaling is given surprisingly brief discusDOI 10.1002/bambed


This paper is available on line at

Akif Uzman Department of Natural Sciences University of Houston-Downtown Houston. Unfortunately. DOI 10. MBC is a well-crafted advanced textbook largely intended for a senior-level or graduate-level course in cell biology. an eBook version of the text is also available. you will be lost as there is no audio accompanying any of them. for many of these film clips.1002/bmb. A customized eBook might also work well for an advanced course in molecular biology wherein the contents of MBC would provide excellent background for as little as $38 per year. Still. Texas 77002 E-mail: uzmana@uhd. which can be read as a narrative or a searchable text much like their fourth edition at the NCBI Books website.20373 .61 spectacular time-lapse microscopy film clips. A few of the videos do not load well and cannot be played. if you do not understand the system presented thoroughly. an enterprising student can probably figure out what he/she is watching.