Gene/mRNA/Protein Nomenclature Bible


One of the most common difficulties for people writing manuscripts in the biological sciences is knowing how to properly format gene/protein/mRNA symbols for the organism under study. This is understandable given that the rules change with different organisms. So, to make things simple, here are the naming conventions for genes/proteins/mRNA for some of the most common organisms studied today:


General Rules:


1) Conventions for mRNA follow the conventions for genes

2) cDNA follows the same conventions as genes

3) Gene symbols are usually italicized and protein symbols are not.

4) Full gene names are not italicized


Humans:

Genes: Italicized and all capital letters (e.g., ABC)

Proteins: Not italicized and all capital letters (e.g., ABC)


Notes: Gene/protein symbols typically do not contain: greek letters, punctuation (e.g., hyphens), or Arabic numerals


Mice and Rats:

Genes: Italicized and only the first letter capitalized (e.g., Abc)

Proteins: Not italicized and all letters capitalized (e.g., ABC)


Chicken:

Same conventions as humans.


Lizard (Anolis sp.)

Genes: Italicized and all letters in lowercase (e.g., abc)

Proteins: Not italicized and all letters capitalized (e.g., ABC)


Frog (Xenopis sp.)

Genes: Italicized and all letters in lowercase (e.g., abc)

Proteins: Not italicized and only the first letter in uppercase (e.g., Abc)


Zebrafish

Genes: Italicized and all letters in lowercase (e.g., abc)

Proteins: Not italicized and only the first letter capitalized (e.g., Abc)


Note: full gene names are italicized in fish


Drosophila

The naming can be quite complex and for brevity I will refer you to this site.


C. elegans

Genes: Three lowercase, italicized letters with a hyphen and an Arabic number (e.g., abc-1)

Proteins: Not italicized and all capital letters (e.g., ABC-1)


Bacteria

Genes: Three lowercase, italicized letters (e.g., abc), with alleles distinguished with an uppercase letter (e.g., abcD)

Proteins: Not italicized and he first letter is capitalized (e.g., AbcD)


Yeast

The rules here can be complicated, but generally:

Genes: Three lowercase, italicized letters with an Arabic number (e.g., abc1)

Proteins: Not italicized with the initial letter capitalized and a 'p' at the end (e.g., Abc1p)


For a more complete explanation, see this .pdf


If you would like to see the conventions for other organisms, please leave us a comment below. Good luck in your manuscript writing/editing!

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