of books by Bertil Hille

BERTIL HILLE, is Professor at the Washington University School of Medicine, Dept.. of Physiology and Biophysics. He is interested in cell signaling by ion channels, neurotransmitters and hormones acting through G-protein coupled receptors and intracellular calcium. His book on ion channels is the authoritative volume on ion channels in biological membranes.

Ionic Channels of Excitable Membranes
by Bertil Hille
3rd ed., Sinaur, 2001

Bertil Hille's book on ion channels, now in its third edition, has become the standard reference book on ion channels and a must have for any library, students, or scientists interested in the mechanism of neuronal signal transmission, control of muscle activity, and - more and more - also the very complex topic of cell volume regulation, and hormonal and immunological signaling. The research on ion channels has become a broad field with many subspecialties reflecting the enormous combinatorial diversity of cell membrane receptors and channels. While electrophysiology has always been a molecular science, unlike pharmacology and physiology, the gap separating the small, i.e., mechanism of action potentials, with the large, i.e., memory, sensory inputs, and consciousness is narrowing. A good example may be the convergence of calcium channel pharmacology, one of the richest and best understood, and the biochemistry of calcium selective ion channels, both voltage and ligand gated families. The challenge to match the phenotypic description of pharmacologically active substances with the protein subunit composition of calcium channels is enormous. Scientists in both fields have to learn each others language. Hille's book is one of the best accounts of the molecular side of the story. Indeed, he is a story teller, not just a scientist. This makes this book so enormously popular. He also has the ability to tell a story twice, for the beginner and for the specialist. Their is no better feeling than to read about an unfamiliar class of ion channels, say nucleotide gated channels, when being familiar with mostly voltage-gated (classical) ion channel systems. The similarities of ion channels at the molecular level that are regulated by seemingly unrelated molecules are interesting. Hille can bring about the importance of this similarity by highlighting common features due evolutionarily related mechanisms and the biophysical aspect of ion permeation across protein channels.

December 30, 1999, updated May 5, 2003/ © 199-2003 Lukas K. Buehler go back to Book Review Home