Send to

Choose Destination
J Cell Sci. 2000;113(Pt 24):4377-4378.

Nature's loss, Immunologists gain?

Author information

Wellcome Trust Immunology Unit, Addenbrooke's site, Cambridge, UK.


Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology Nature Publishing Group (2000). ISSN 1471-0072. Monthly First there was Annual Reviews, then came the monthly Elsevier Trends Journals, both of which try to identify hot topics in their chosen fields. The Current Opinion journals followed several years later, and Current Opinion in Cell Biology is presently one of the highest 'impact factor' review journals, with a distinguished board of editors and advisors and a systematic approach to regular coverage of the major fields of cell biology. Important topics are visited once a year, whether or not something specially exciting happened in the last 12 months. Add to this list Seminars in Cell and Developmental Biology, the FASEB journal and the countless minireviews in 'real' journals, and you begin to wonder how anyone finds any time for doing experiments, or indeed reading the primary literature. So, into this already crowded field arrive three important newcomers: Nature Reviews in Molecular Cell Biology, Genetics, and Neurosciences, of which the first two will probably interest readers of Journal of Cell Science the most. Backed by the name and money of Nature and edited by experienced Nature staff, it is hard to see how these publications can possibly do other than succeed with writers and readers alike. What's inside the first issue? The cover of Nature Reviews in Molecular Cell Biology presents a 3-colour montage of a blue cell nucleus surrounded by splotches of green GPI-anchored GFP overlaid by orange actin stress fibres that seem to come from somewhere else. This image trails a comprehensive review from Kai Simons and Derek Toomre about Lipid Rafts. There are another five major review articles: calcium puffs and sparks, rings around DNA, HIV inhibitors, kinesin and the circadian clock provide a rich and varied mix of topics from authors who know what they're talking about. Surrounding this core is an entertaining mixture of 'highlights' at the front: news and views about a well-chosen selection of recent articles in the primary literature written by the three editors. These struck me as striking slightly too jokey a style. It is a terrible temptation and mistake in this kind of piece, I think, to equate lightheartedness with clarity. The sugar coating is more likely to irritate than enlighten. I would also question the wisdom, if it is indeed a policy, of only allowing editors to write in this section. I'm all for experienced writers writing, but I think I would prefer the variety of voice and authority evinced by the parental Nature News and Views. After the main reviews comes a section entitled 'perspectives', which include a 'Timeline' piece on Hayflick and his limit by Jerry Shay and Woodring Wright that I very much enjoyed, and a review (or Opinion) about cancer from Judah Folkman, Philip Hahnfeldt and Lynn Hlatky. In their own words, "the impetus for this Opinion article centres on the increasing awareness of the heterogeneity and instability of the cancer genome [. I]t is possible that suppressing this degenerative process may itself comprise an alternative constraint-based paradigm." The authors' fondness for portentous phrases of this kind rather spoiled their discussion for me. I also had trouble with an article on molecular computing. PCR reactions can solve the travelling salesman problem, it seems, but extremely slowly compared to a proper computer. The magazine has a nice heft to it, and is attractively designed and presented in glossy colour, although the main font is small enough to make reading difficult for your middle-aged reviewer in a particularly heavily overcast and rainy week in London. A first issue is supposed to be a kind of showcase, but if they can keep this up, the editors will surely have a success on their hands and you will probably be obliged to take out a personal subscription (£85), or persuade your library to part with £565. That's slightly cheaper than TiBS and a lot cheaper than Current Opinion in Cell Biology, both of which will have to run faster if they want to stay in the same place.


Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center