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WAO Medical Book Review

Structural Biology of the Complement System
Morikis D, Lambris JD, eds.
2005 CRC Press

List price: $169.95
Available from:
CRC Press

Dr Olga Patricia MARTINEZ, MB BS, FRACP, FRCPA, PhD (Royal Perth Hospital, PathWest, School of Surgery and Pathology, University of Western Australia)

The discovery of the complement proteins and molecules involved in their activation and inhibition has taken many years. This book describes the current knowledge of the structure of complement components and of complement activator and inhibitory molecules. Each chapter is dedicated to particular components, with a detailed description of their structure and function and how these correlate with each other. The final two chapters describe molecules that control complement activation, for which analogues could potentially be designed and produced for therapeutic purposes.

The purpose of this book was to assemble a volume containing the current state-of-the-art of the structural biology of components, activators and inhibitors of the complement system, with structure-function correlations.

This book is predominantly targeted to researchers interested in understanding the many molecules participating in complement-mediated responses, including activating and inhibiting molecules and their interactions. It is also directed to researchers interested in protein dynamics and thermodynamics of these processes. Some sections of the book that describe the role of the complement system in innate and acquired immunity would be of interest to immunologists. The potential for synthetic molecules to control complement activation is of interest to clinicians dealing with immune-mediated disorders.

The first chapter provides a historical overview of discovery, purification and description of three-dimensional structure of complement proteins. Subsequent chapters describe in detail the molecular and modular structure of complement control proteins (CCP), individual complement proteins, some complement receptors and activators and inhibitors. Each chapter is well ordered with a table of contents and contains clear tables and diagrams. Each chapter concludes with an extensive list of references and, where required, acknowledgment of funding and contribution by colleagues.

A companion CD is provided with the book. This contains all figures and legends in separate Acrobat files. Most figures are in black and white, but some have color to highlight specific features. There are links to the PDB (Protein Data BanK) for all structures discussed and for complement-related proteins and viral, semi-synthetic or synthetic complement regulators or inhibitors reviewed. The CD also contains the "RasTop" bio-molecular structure visualization program, which reads and displays PDB coordinate files.

The existence of the complement system has been recognized for many years. However, detailed description of the structure of its many components has taken many years and many techniques. This book brings together much of the currently available knowledge in this area. While there are still many unanswered questions about the precise mechanism of action and the many interactions involved in complement-mediated reactions, the potential for new therapeutic interventions makes it an exciting area for further investigation. The detailed information provided in STRUCTURAL BIOLOGY of the COMPLEMENT SYSTEM would be extremely useful for future researchers in this area, making this book a must-have for those intending to pursue this interesting field of research.