Edited by Greenfield Sluder and David E. Wolf

Academic Press, San Diego, California, USA
Methods in Cell Biology, Volume 56, 1998.
ISBN 012 564 1583; 325 pages; $99.95

This volume (#56) in the Methods in Cell Biology series is a collection of papers by several of the leading laboratories using and developing video microscopy. The editors are the chief instructors of the Marine Biological Laboratory (Woods Hole, Mass.) course in “Analytical and Quantitative Light Microscopy.” Not surprisingly, this volume largely covers topics within this renown course in advanced biological microscopy. In addition to well-known academic scientists, several authors also represent manufacturers of video cameras and microscopes.

Each of the 15 chapters stands on its own and provides a succinct discussion of useful information for the microscopist requiring a particular methodology or instrumentation. Four chapters cover various aspects of video cameras [Video Basics: Use of Camera and Monitor Adjustments (G. Sluder and E.H. Hinchcliffe), Electronic Cameras for Low-Light Level Microscopy (K. Berland, K. Jacobson, and T. French), Cooled CCD vs. Intensified Cameras for Low-light Video (M. Oshiro), and Mating Cameras to Microscopes (J. Hinsch)]. Three chapters address various aspects of image processing and image analysis [Techniques for Optimizing Microscopy and Analysis through Digital Image Processing (T. Inoue and N. Gliksman), Introduction to Imaging Processing (R.A. Cardullo and E.J. Alm), and Digital Deconvolution of Fluorescence Images for Biologists (Y.-L. Wang)]. Six chapters provide detailed discussion of various types of video microscopy including Quantitative Video Microscopy (D.E. Wolf), High-Resolution Video-Enhanced Differential Interference Contrast light Microscopy (E.D. Salmon and P. Tran), High-Resolution Multimode Digital Microscope System (E.D. Salmon et al.), Ratio Imaging Instrumentation (K. Dunn and F.R. Maxfield), Ratio Imaging: Practical Considerations for Measuring Intracellular Calcium and pH in Living Tissue (R.B. Silver), and Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging Techniques (T. French et al.). Rounding out the chapters is one that provides helpful information on Proper Alignment of the Microscope (H.E. Keller) and a second chapter entitled Perfusion Chambers for High Resolution Video Light Microscopic Studies of Vertebrate Cell Monolayers: Some Considerations and a Design (C.R. Rieder and R.W. Cole).

While this is a very useful volume overall, there are some problems. As often occurs in multiple author volumes, the level of coordination between the chapters is less than it could be. Consequently, there is some overlap between topics and inconsistent coverage of others. For example, deconvolution methods could have been more broadly covered, while digital confocal methods, or any kind of confocal microscopy, is not addressed at all. It would have also been useful to have a chapter on illumination systems. While some thought did go into the ordering of the chapters to provide a logical progression from basic instrumentation to applications, this is not entirely successful. It would be very difficult for the novice to follow the current chapter progression since very detailed discussions of cameras and optics come well before there is any explanation of what video light microscopy is, and why it is desired. This is only briefly discussed within some later chapters. An introductory overview of video light microscopy would have been a very useful addition as a first chapter.

There are also some problems with editing and organization. Most notably the color plates were buried in the middle of the last chapter, and there was no mention in the text that these color plates even existed. Consequently, this reader assumed that several figures were missing until the end of the text was reached. An index is also provided, but is inconveniently placed several pages before the end. (The last several pages list the other volumes in the Methods in Cell Biology series.)

The volume is inexpensively produced, using a plastic spiral-like binding such as is commonly used for reports and laboratory manuals. Since this type of binding readily lays open upon the desk this may have been intended to be useful for keeping the book open while following directions. However, very little information in this volume is of the type where this would be necessary. The quality of print and the all important figures are, however, more than adequate.

It is difficult to review such a comprehensive volume on video microscopy without comparing it with Shinya Inoue’s classic volume(s) Video Microscopy. The Sluder and Wolf volume is not a replacement for Inoue’s work, but rather could be thought of as a very useful supplement. While it may be possible to find several papers and review articles addressing many of the topics in Sluder’s and Wolf’s volume, this would be a difficult, unnecessary, and time-consuming task. Moreover, there is much useful information in this volume that is not readily found in the journal literature, such as detailed reviews of perfusion chambers, discussions of microscope alignment, how to mate video cameras to microscopes, and how to optimize camera and monitor adjustments. In fact, this is exactly the type of “hands on” extremely useful information that is provided in a good course. In short, this volume edited by Sluder and Wolf provides very useful information for the practicing video microscopist.

Steven L. Goodman, Ph.D.
Center for Biomaterials and Department of Physiology
University of Connecticut Health Center
263 Farmington Avenue
Farmington, CT 06030-1615

Cell Behaviour Control and Mechanism of Motility

Edited by J.M. Lackie, G.A. Dunn and G.E. Jones

Portland Press, London 1999
ISBN 1 85578 1247; 346 pages, illustrated
Biochemical Society Symposium No. 65
4th Abercrombie Conference on Cell Behaviour held at
St. Catharine’s College, Oxford, 28 September–1 October 1997

This remarkable book is dedicated to Juri Vasiliev who founded and led first cell biology labs in the countries behind the iron curtain. His friendly personal and working contacts with Michael Abercrombie and his colleagues proved fruitful for cell biology.

Nineteen superbly illustrated contributions presented at the 4th Abercrombie Conference mark merging cell motility studies with the stream of postgenomics both in results and approaches.

The content is divided into six sections. In the Introduction, the results of genetic analysis of the motile machinery of Dictiostelium are reviewed by G. Gerish and his group. They conclude that improving on temporal resolution (to seconds) when protein recruitment is studied will be a challenge of future.

In Motile Responses, A. Curtis and C. Wilkinson stress that a majority of cells react to artificial nanotopography, that is, to only 11 nm steps, and discuss the explanations. Complementary to this, R. T. Tranquillo uses almost natural topography of network of protein fibres for in vitro investigation of self-organization of tissue equivalents. He proposes that contact guidance in compacting tissue equivalents is a response to fibril alignment associated with anisotropic network strain. Study of the E-catherin-catenin complex in relationship to cancer invasion led M. Mareel and his colleagues to the conclusion that the paracrine and autocrine factors released upon interaction between cancer and host cells regulate the cancer cell behaviour.

In Signal Transduction, M.J. Humphries exposes structural model of integrins and their regulatory interactions with various mAbs. D. R. Critchley and co-workers review the role that integrins play in interactions between animal cells and extracellular matrix. P. C. Salinas discusses the novel role of Wnt factors in axonal remodelling and control of microtubules. A. J. Ridley and her co-workers present evidence pointing to central roles for Rho family of proteins in coordinating normal cell migration. The involvement of Tiam1 and Rho-like GTP-ases in metastasis formation by malignant cells is discussed by F. Michiels and J. G. Collard.

In Cytoskeletal Dynamics, A. D. Bershadsky and colleagues present evidence about microtubule involvement in regulation of cell contractility. L. P. Cramer thoroughly reviews organisation of the actin cytoskeleton in various cells and the role of myosins in cell motility. G. C. Borisy and his team analyse the role of the actin-myosin II system in the leading edge of moving cells. M. Schliwa and colleagues found that centrosome follows the repositioning of the leading edge rather than initiating it. M. P. Sheetz and colleagues advocate the decomposition of cell migration over substrata to a five-step cycle. In Dynamics of Motility, I. Weber and colleagues studied the effects of actin-binding proteins mutations in Dictiostelium on cell shape and motility. T. P. Stossel and colleagues review development of knowledge on mechanism of cell crawling two decades after Abercrombie. M. Peckham and co-workers used genetic manipulation of components of locomotory machinery combined with a newly developed technique of quantitative light microscopy (by G. A. Dunn and D. Zicha) as tools for improved understanding of crawling cell locomotion in myoblasts. E. L. Elson and co-workers describe and analyse forces exerted on cell locomotion. The book ends with Albert Harris’s dozen questions about how cells crawl. They document his professional responsibility as he has deeply influenced shaping of the field. All of them offer possible explanations to the old questions including Abercombie’s contact inhibition of locomotion in current molecular terms.

This inspiring book presents an understandable insight into all important aspects of cell motile behaviour while reviewing an array of methods designed for a vast, huge upgrading of the value of data gained in future. Therefore it can be considered a must for any researcher in cell biology.

Pavel Vesely, M.D., Ph.D.
Institute of Molecular Genetics
Acad. Sci. of the Czech Republic

Cellular Responses to Stress

Edited by C.P. Downes, C.R. Wolf and D.P. Lane

Portland Press, London 1999
ISBN 1 85578 1239; 171 pages, illustrated
Biochemical Society Symposium No. 64
held at The University of Liverpoool, Spring 1997

This book is packed with data and ideas, and summarises causes and outcomes of cellular stress. Environmental insults, oxidative stress, and inflammatory cytokines lead to cell migration, proliferation, and/or apoptosis through complex signalling pathways. Bacteria, yeast, and animal cells are covered.

The book is of great interest not only for reviewing processes such as inflammation in normal cells and drug-resistance in neoplastic cells, but also as a direction for designing new challenges cells can be exposed in vitro. This offers new tools for studies of cell behaviour and its molecular determination. In cancer research it can help to reveal properties of malignant cells that might otherwise remain silent under standard conditions.

A final contribution deals with the concept of chemoprevention of cancer. Chemoprevention can act by blocking mutations due to ability of blocking agents to induce the expression of antioxidant and detoxification proteins. The activity of antioxidant responsive element (ARE) is described. Further analysis of the mechanism of chemopreventive influence on gene expression is expected to boost benefits from this novel form of preventive medicine.

The book can be recommended as a highly informative and inspiring review about cellular responses to stress.

Pavel Vesely, M.D., Ph.D.
Institute of Molecular Genetics
Acad. Sci. of the Czech Republic

 Introduction to Light Microscopy

By S. Bradbury and B. Bracegirdle

Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. (June 1998)
ISBN 0387915X; 120 pages; $32.95

This is an excellent handbook describing the principles and practice of light microscopy. The book is concise and easy to read, making it an excellent choice for both classroom and self-motivated instruction. The description of the basic concepts is particularly well done, providing a perfect complement to the stepwise guide to optimizing the techniques of optical microscopy. The figures and diagrams are numerous and helpful and the book is unencumbered by equations.

David G. Howitt
Department of Chemical Engineering
and Materials Science
University of California at Davis, Davis, California, USA