The Organic Chemistry of Biological Pathways

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  • Edition: 2nd
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 12/11/2015
  • Publisher: W. H. Freeman

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The Organic Chemistry of Biological Pathways was written for an audience of advanced undergraduates and graduate students who want a deeper understanding of the chemical reactions that take place in living organisms. The authors assume readers have a background in organic chemistry at the level of the typical two-semester college course. Although enzymes are crucial to biological reactions, the authors’ focus always remains on the reactivity patterns of the substrate molecules and on the organic, arrow-pushing details of the individual reactions.

The authors begin the book with a brief review chapter on the fundamental organic reaction mechanisms commonly found in biochemical pathways. Following this brush up on reaction mechanisms is a general introduction to the main classes of biomolecules. Then comes the heart of the book: full chapters devoted to the major metabolic pathways of the main classes of biomolecules—lipids, carbohydrates, proteins, nucleotides, and secondary metabolites. In the course of these chapters, readers cover the chemistry of the common coenzymes, see examples of the common sorts of biological transformations, and ultimately begin to develop an understanding of the patterns found throughout bioorganic chemistry. The authors conclude with a summary of the reaction patterns and mechanisms frequently used in nature to effect chemical transformations, followed by a brief chapter summarizing some general themes of enzymatic catalysis.

All mechanisms have been updated in this second edition, and several hundred references to recent literature are given for those students who want more detail.

Author Biography

John E. McMurry received his B.A. from Harvard University and his Ph.D. at Columbia University. Dr. McMurry is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and an Alfred P. Sloan Research Foundation Fellow. He has received several awards, which include the National Institutes of Health Career Development Award, the Alexander von Humboldt Senior Scientist Award, and the Max Planck Research Award. In addition to The Organic Chemistry of Biological Pathways, he is also the author of Organic Chemistry, Fundamentals of Organic Chemistry, and Chemistry (with Robert Fay).

Tadhg P. Begley received his B.Sc. from National University of Ireland and his Ph.D. at the California Institute of Technology. Dr. Begley is the recipient of many awards, including the Merck Faculty Development Award and the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award. His research group uses the principles and techniques of organic chemistry to study complex organic transformations found in vitamin biosynthetic pathways. In addition to The Organic Chemistry of Biological Pathways, Dr. Begley has edited Cofactor Biosynthesis: A Mechanistic Perspective.

Table of Contents

1. Organic Mechanisms in Biological Chemistry

2. Biomolecules and Their Chirality

3. Lipids and Their Metabolism

5. Amino Acid Metabolism

6. Nucleotide Metabolism

7. Biosynthesis of Some Natural Products

8. A Summary of Biological Transformations

9. Chemical Principles of Enzymatic Catalysis


A. Visualizing Protein Structures Using PyMOL

B. Using the KEGG and BRENDA Databases

C. Answers to End-of-Chapter Problems

D. Abbreviations Used in this Book


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