HUGO Gene Nomenclature Committee
|Primary citation||Seal & al. (2011)|
The HUGO Gene Nomenclature Committee (HGNC) approves a unique and meaningful name for every known human gene based on a query of experts. In addition to a long name, the HGNC also assigns an abbreviation (referred to as symbol) to every gene. The HGNC is part of the Human Genome Organisation (HUGO).
Especially gene abbreviations/symbols but also full gene names are often not specific for a single gene. A marked example is CAP which can refer to any of 6 different genes (BRD4, CAP1, LNPEP, PTPLA, SERPINB6, and SORBS1).
The HGNC short gene names, or gene symbols, unlike previously used or published symbols, are specifically assigned to one gene only. This can result in less common abbreviations being selected but reduces confusion as to which gene is referred to.
The HGNC summarises its approach to naming genes and assigning symbols (gene name abbreviations) as follows:
- gene symbols must be unique
- symbols should only contain Latin letters and Arabic numerals
- symbols should not contain punctuation or "G" for gene
- symbols do not contain any reference to the species they are encoded in, i.e. "H/h" for human
The full description of HGNC's nomenclature guidelines can be found on their web site . HGNC advocates the appendices _v1, _v2,.. to distinguish between different splice variants and _pr1, _pr2,.. for promoter variants of a single gene.
HGNC also states that "gene nomenclature should evolve with new technology rather than be restrictive as sometimes occurs when historical and single gene nomenclature systems are applied."
When assigning new gene nomenclature the HGNC make efforts to contact authors who have published on the human gene in question by email, and their responses to the proposed nomenclature are requested. In order to work in a timely manner, there is typically a two week time limit to respond but the deadline can be extended. HGNC also coordinates with the related Mouse and Rat Genomic Nomenclature Committees, other database curators, and experts for given specific gene families or sets of genes.
The gene name revision procedure is similar to the naming procedure, but changing a standardised gene name after establishment of a consensus can create confusion and the merit of this is therefore controversial. For this reason the HGNC aims to change a gene name only if agreement for that change can be reached among a majority of researchers working on that gene.
- Seal, Ruth L; Gordon Susan M, Lush Michael J, Wright Mathew W, Bruford Elspeth A (January 2011). "genenames.org: the HGNC resources in 2011". Nucleic Acids Res. (England) 39 (Database issue): D514–9. doi:10.1093/nar/gkq892. PMC 3013772. PMID 20929869.
- Shows, TB; McAlpine, PJ; Boucheix, C; Collins, FS; Conneally, PM; Frézal, J; Gershowitz, H; Goodfellow, PN et al. (1987). "Guidelines for human gene nomenclature. An international system for human gene nomenclature (ISGN, 1987)". Cytogenetics and cell genetics 46 (1–4): 11–28. PMID 3507270.
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