THE NEW EDITION OF MOLECULAR BIOLOGY OF THE GENE appears in this, its 7th edition, on
the 60th anniversary of the discovery of the structure of DNA in 1953, an occasion celebrated by our cover design. The double-helical structure, held together by spe- cific pairing between the bases on the two strands, has become one of the iconic images of science.
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The image of the microscope was perhaps the icon of science in the late 19th century, displaced by the mid 20th century by the graphical representation of the atom with its orbiting electrons. But by the end of the century that image had in turn given way to the double helix.
The field of molecular biology as we understand it today was born out of the discovery
of the DNA structure and the agenda for research that that structure immediately provided.
The paper by Watson and Crick proposing the double helix ended with a now famous sen-
tence: “It has not escaped our notice that the specific pairing we have postulated immedi-
ately suggests a possible copying mechanism for the genetic material.” The structure suggested how DNA could replicate, opening the way to investigate, in molecular terms,
how genes are passed down through generations. It was also immediately apparent that
the order of bases along a DNA molecule could represent a “genetic code,” and so an attack
on that second great mystery of genetics—how genes encode characteristics—could also
By the time the first edition of Molecular Biology of the Gene was published, just 12 years later in 1965, it had been confirmed that DNA replicated in the manner suggested by the model, the genetic code had all but been cracked, and the mechanism by which genes are expressed, and how that expression is regulated, had been established at least in outline. The field of molecular biology was ripe for its first textbook, defining for the first time the curriculum for undergraduate courses in this topic.
Our understanding of the mechanisms underlying these processes has hugely
increased over the last 48 years since that first edition, often driven by technological
advances, including DNA sequencing (another anniversary this year is the 10th anniver-
sary of completion of the human genome project). The current edition of Molecular Biol-
ogy of the Gene celebrates both the central intellectual framework of the field put in place in that first edition and the extraordinary mechanistic, biological, and evolutionary understanding that has since been achieved.
New to This Edition
There are a number of major changes to the new edition. As well as wide-ranging updates, these include changes in organization, addition of completely new chapters, and the addi-
tion of new topics within existing chapters.
. New Part 2 on the Structure and Study of Macromolecules. In this new section, each of the
three major macromolecules gets its own chapter. The DNA chapter is retained from the
previous edition, but what was previously just a short section at the end of that chapter
is now expanded into a whole new chapter on the structure of RNA. The chapter on
the structure of proteins is completely new and was written for this edition by Stephen
Harrison (Harvard University).
Techniques chapter moved from the end of the book into Part 2. This revised and relocated
chapter introduces the important techniques that will be referred to throughout the book. In addition to many of the basic techniques of molecular biology, this chapter now includes an updated section on many genomics techniques routinely employed by molecular biologists. Techniques more specialized for particular chapters appear as boxes within those chapters.
. Completely new chapter on The Origin and Early Evolution of Life. This chapter shows how
the techniques of molecular biology and biochemistry allow us to consider—even
reconstruct—how life might have arisen and addresses the prospect of creating life
in a test tube (synthetic biology). The chapter also reveals how, even at the very early
stages of life, molecular processes were subject to evolution.
. New material on many aspects of gene regulation. Part 5 of the book is concerned with gene
regulation. In this edition we have introduced significant new topics, such as quorum
sensing in bacterial populations, the bacterial CRISPR defense system and piRNAs in animals, the function of Polycomb, and increased discussion of other so-called “epige- netic” mechanisms of gene regulation in higher eukaryotes. The regulation of “paused polymerase” at many genes during animal development and the critical involvement of nucleosome positioning and remodeling at promoters during gene activation are also new topics to this edition.
. End-of-chapter questions. Appearing for the first time in this edition, these include both
short answer and data analysis questions. The answers to the even-numbered questions
are included as Appendix 2 at the back of the book.
. New experiments and experimental approaches reflecting recent advances in research. Inte-
grated within the text are new experimental approaches and applications that broaden the horizons of research. These include, for example, a description of how the genetic code can be experimentally expanded to generate novel proteins, creation of a synthetic genome to identify the minimal features required for life, discussion of new genome- wide analysis of nucleosome positioning, experiments on bimodal switches in bacte- ria, and how new antibacterial drugs are being designed that target the quorum-sensing pathways required for pathogenesis.
Free Books Online PDF: Molecular Biology of the Gene – 2013