Life Unfolding: How the Human Body Creates Itself

Jamie A. Davies. Oxford Univ, $29.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-19-967353-7
The bodies that house us build themselves very differently from the way we build houses, says Davies, University of Edinburgh developmental biologist and editor of the journal Organogenesis. A main reason is that there is no boss within the body—self-organization rules from the “molecules within a single cell to the large-scale construction of complex tissues.” There isn’t a control center because control can be located everywhere. In addition to all this building activity, the body must also expend resources to stay alive or it will collapse. Davies offers a detailed ride through the mind-boggling number of simultaneous self-organizing activities of growth. Our cells form tissues and organs via a series of mechanical and chemical strategies that include interactions between emitted proteins; proteins and different cell surfaces with different receptors and adhesion properties; and eventually, molecular messages from different areas of the brain, which itself undergoes activity-dependent neuronal wiring and rewiring. Davies says the future lies in studying larger patterns of gene expression and cell connections, networks that may aid researchers in uncovering “universal principles.” Students of developmental biology will find the work useful, though it is rather dense for a more general readership. (June)
Reviewed on: 03/31/2014
Release date: 04/01/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 312 pages - 978-0-19-165450-3
Paperback - 312 pages - 978-0-19-967354-4
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