Is it possible that fully differential cells, cells that have acquired specialized functions and perhaps have lost some general properties can change their nature, becoming cells of another type? Professor Okada has studied this problem extensively and introduced the term "transdifferentiation" to describe the phenomenon. The concept of transdifferentiation is extremely controversial, since it challenges a number of biological orthodoxies. The problem is important because if transdifferentiation really does occur, the process of development and differentiation must be much more flexible than previously considered.
In Transdifferentiation: Flexibility in Cell Differentiation the author brings together a vast amount of experimental evidence and examines it critically. This discussion clearly establishes that there is a real phenomenon to be explained and that the explanation forces us to change our understanding of a number of basic biological processes. Much of the evidence examined is derived from studies of cell biology but increasingly it has become possible to examine the process at the molecular level. Studies of gene expression provide several promising perspectives on the process of transdifferentiation.
Although this monograph focuses on some rather specialized experiments and discusses questions of definition, the phenomenon is so interesting and is of such fundamental importance that it should attract a wide readership.
T. S. Okada is President of the Okazak, National Research Institutes, Japan.
"he gives a comprehensive, critical and fair account of the different systems where this mechanism has been advanced"
– Jeremy Brockes, Trends in Genetics, March 1992 (87) Volume 8 No. 3
"'his is an interesting and timely review [...] The book is well-referenced with a thirty seven page bibliography."
– Aslib Book Guide, Volume 57, No. 2, February 1992
"This readable and interesting book [...] offers reasonable value, guides you and gives you some food for thought on the journey."
– Norman Maclean, University of Southampton, Trends in Biochemical Sciences, Volume 17 No. 8, August 1992
"This monograph is an outstanding comprehensive review on transdifferentiation and should be recommended to biologists, biochemists and molecular geneticists interested in cell differentiation."
– Anticancer Research 12: (1992)