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They Call Me CWC15

Human genes can have names like CWC15 or WEE1, and the New York Times asks how such seemingly random letters and numbers are assigned to them.

Chris Gunter from the Marcus Autism Center of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta tells the Times that these names are bestowed through a blend of history, and convenience, and function.

"For many well-known genes, the names are long and descriptive, such as mitogen-activated protein kinase 1 or epidermal growth factor receptor," Gunter, who was part of the Human Genome Organization gene nomenclature committee, adds. "[So,] we give all human genes three-to-five-letter symbols for easier reference, resulting in MAPK1 and EGFR."

Genes identified in other organisms, particularly in fruit flies, the Times says, sometimes have more inventive names — one fly gene, dubbed Tinman, yields produces fly embryos no hearts when mutated.

Of course, the Daily Scan has always been partial to Klumpfuss and Bride of Sevenless.

The Scan

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