Worm Breeder's Gazette 9(3): 9
Systematic nomenclature has many advantages. especially when clones, strains, or information are being exchanged between laboratories. It encourages compact, clear and unambiguous notation, it preserves information about the source of the material, it makes book-keeping easier for both humans and computers, it can have mnemonic value, and it should help communication between laboratories and communication with the rest of the scientific community. General systems of nomenclature do not, of course, need to be slavishly adhered to within a laboratory; indeed we all have our own in-house systems, adapted to our own resources, problems and so on. But in exchanging items between groups, or in making permanent records, it is very helpful to have universal conventions. It is becoming particularly necessary now that clones, mutations and strains are all numbered in thousands. Some recommendations follow: Clone names We suggest that pieces of cloned DNA are named like strains: each has the laboratory strain designator followed by a # (to indicate that it is a clone), followed by up to five alphanumeric characters. For example, BA#65 and TU#PTU1 are clone names. This permits 60 million different clone names for each group, which should be enough for most laboratories. You can add your own additional descriptors (e.g. whether it is a plasmid or a lambda) if you like. Polymorphism names We encourage everybody to continue to use the existing convention to name RFLP's in C. the laboratory allele designation followed by P (for polymorphism) and a number, all italicized. For example, eP6. This can be followed by a descriptor (e.g. eP6(Tc1 nr lin-12)) if you like. Gene names More and more genes are being defined by cloning bits of DNA without any known mutants: enzymes, structural proteins, oncogenes, transcripts of unknown function and so on. It would be helpful if these were given three letter names according to the existing system as soon as possible. This has already been done in many cases (e.g. cal-l, myo-2, Some of these may turn out to be pseudogenes; when this is known, we suggest adding 'ps' as an optional descriptor. For example, msp-61ps.Strain names It would help if strains were always given strain names when being sent between laboratories. The Caenorhabditis Genetics Center requires this when strains are sent to them, so it shouldn't be hard to do as a matter of course. These suggestions will be subject to discussion at another stormy session at Cold Spring Harbor next May, along with more contentious issues like the renaming of genes and the use of exotic names. We thought it would be useful to air some recommendations.