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Book review. RNA Biology - An Introduction by Gunter Meister
Apr 29, 2016

A large part of my PhD project deals, broadly speaking, with the computational analysis of non-coding RNAs and their biological function. To brush up on my knowledge of molecular RNA biology, I decided to read the book ‘RNA Biology: an Introduction’ (link to publisher and amazon.com) written by Gunter Meister. Now that I finished reading the book, I would like to share a short review here.

Review

The book consists of two parts; the first part focuses on the biology of coding RNAs, i.e., messenger RNAs, while the second part deals with the biology of non-coding RNAs. In part one, there is as separate chapter for each step in the life of a messenger RNA ranging from transcription to translation and decay pathways. The second part has a rather class-centric view on non-coding RNAs. This means that it contains a chapter on transfer RNAs, ribosomal RNAs, small nucleolar RNAs and so on.

Each chapter ends with a summary and a set of exam-like questions that help reiterate chapter contents. Furthermore, good pointers to scientific articles, mostly review articles, are given at the end of each chapter. I particularly enjoyed the many useful illustrations of key concepts in each chapter. Whenever I needed a graphical illustration to further my understanding, I found one. The book is nicely written in a precise, scientific style and only contains minor typos.

My only point of critique is that many important methods that are very ‘hot’ in the field right now are only discussed very briefly in the book. Examples include CRISPR and all sorts of approaches based on high-throughput sequencing. The reason for this is of course that the current, first edition of the book I am referring to was published in 2011.

Overall, I recommend this book to every student and scientist that would like to learn more about the complex and very interesting biology of coding and non-coding RNA molecules.


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