A few weeks ago, I was sent a book “Retroviruses: Molecular Biology, Genomic, and Pathogenesis” (www.caister.com ) edited by Reinhard Kurth and Norbert Bannert. I was asked to make a few comments about this book and to publicize it in the Retrovirology blog. Certainly, Retrovirology blog is an appropriate venue to bring to the attention of the retrovirus community expertly written and edited books like this one. I should, however, put out a disclaimer. Andrew Lever, Ben Berkhout and I will have a book that we co-edited together published later this year (May 2010). Our book [“RECENT ADVANCES IN HUMAN RETROVIRUSES: PRINCIPLES OF REPLICATION AND PATHOGENESIS” http://www.worldscibooks.com/lifesci/7629.html] overlaps partially in content with the Kurth and Bannert “Retroviruses” book, but ours is restricted only to the discussion of human retroviruses.
I wanted to read the Kurth and Bannert “Retroviruses” book immediately when I first received it. However, due to other commitments, I decided to first file it away on my book shelf. Upon doing so, I quickly realized that the K& B “Retroviruses” title in some ways could be confused by younger colleagues with the very similarly titled “Retroviruses” tome edited by Coffin, Hughes & Varmus. Both books have the same intention of reviewing the biology of retroviruses. The K&B version is more nuanced while the CH&V one is more comprehensive in scope.
Kurth and Bannert’s “Retroviruses” has sixteen chapters covering retrotransposons, endogenous retroviruses, animal retroviruses, and of course the human retroviruses HIV-1 and HTLV-1. For HIV-1, there is especially good coverage of entry, uncoating, reverse transcription, integration, transcription, splicing, assembly and release. These aspects are a bit unevenly covered for the other retroviruses. For example, the chapter on “Transcription of…retroviral RNA” is essentially restricted to the mechanisms of Tat and HIV-1 LTR. Uninitiated students might then be surprised to learn elsewhere that the mechanisms of other LTRs and that of the HTLV-1 Tax protein are quite different. Despite the expected bias towards HIV-1, the book does contain excellent chapters on non-primate mammalian retroviruses, simian retroviruses, fish retroviruses, use of retroviral vectors, and cellular factors that restrict retroviral infection. All the chapters are beautifully illustrated and written by some of the most respected authorities in the field.
I highly recommend K&B’s “Retroviruses” book to both students and expert colleagues.