A systematic view of the genetic nomenclature: Trends in gene naming


Certain scientific discoveries confer the privilege of coining a lasting name. In biology curious identifiers abound, ranging from playful acronyms for bio-software tools to Latinized species names and tongue-twisting ‘descriptive’ labels.

The most problematic of these are gene names. The prevalence of silly and awkward gene names has been discussed before. Critics lament the lasting implications of whimsical naming, particularly when the gene in question turns out to be involved in human illness. How is one to react, say, when an oncologist explains that your Pokemon mutation gives you mere months to live?

But unusual or inconsistent gene names raise other concerns as well. In the genomics era, the genetic harvest of entire species is now processed en masse, and genetic information is accessed via massive databases where the context of clever or conflicting names is easily lost. As a consequence, initial cuteness has bred current confusion.

Here, we take stock of the current genetic nomenclature and attempt to systematize these strange and notable names.

Extended Gene Name Tables

Data Files
Gene names of various organsims and their corresponding PubMed and Yahoo (estimated) search hits.