Friday, June 21, 2013

Writing Tip: Gene Nomenclature

If you have ever read a journal article, you have noticed that sometimes gene names are capitalized, other times not; sometimes gene names are in italics, other times not.  This is not sloppy writing, or because of journal-specific preferences.

Instead, this is because of  gene nomenclature rules.
Gene nomenclature rules are an elegant way to distinguish DNA from protein, etc in writing. Based on how the letters are capitalized and italicized, gene nomenclature allows a reader to easily distinguish DNA from protein, without the author having to explicitly write DNA or protein.





General Gene Nomenclature Rules

Here are the general nomenclature rules for mice/rats/chickens. Note that these rules do not apply to all species. For other species, or more details, consult the links at the bottom of this post.

Full gene names
  • Not in italics
  • No Greek symbols
  • Example: Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor
Gene symbols
  • No Greek symbols
  • No hyphens
  • Italicize
  • Capitalize first letter, rest lowercase
  • Example: Vegf
Protein name
  • No Greek symbols
  • No hyphens
  • All upper case letters
  • Example: VEGF
mRNA
  • Same as Gene symbol
  • No Greek symbols
  • No hyphens
  • Italicize
  • Capitalize first letter, rest lowercase
  • Example: Vegf

Species Specific Nomenclature Rules

  • Mouse nomenclature go here: MGI.
  • Human nomenclature go here: HUGO
  • Fly nomenclature go here: FlyBase
  • Frog nomenclature go here: Xenbase
  • Zebrafish nomenclature go here: Zfin
  • Saccharomyces nomenclature go here: SGD
  • Candida nomenclature go here: CGD
  • Arabidopsis nomenclature go here: tiar

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