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Avoiding the MARCH1 to 1-Mar Change

In a bid to avoid Excel-generated confusion as well as standardize naming, the HUGO Gene Nomenclature Committee has issued new gene-naming guidelines, the Verge reports.

It adds that a 2016 study in Genome Biology found that about a fifth of studies with Microsoft Excel-based supplementary gene name lists contained gene name errors. For instance, the paper noted that the gene symbol for Septin 2, SEPT2, defaults to the date '2-Sep' when typed into Excel, while Membrane-Associated Ring Finger, aka MARCH1, becomes '1-Mar'. The Quadram Institute's Dezső Módos tells the Verge that the alterations are troublesome. "It's a widespread tool and if you are a bit computationally illiterate you will use it," he says. 

But in Nature Genetics this week, HGNC has set forth guidelines for naming protein-coding genes, RNA genes, and pseudogenes to avoid such mishaps. The guidelines further say gene symbols should only contain Latin letters and Arabic numerals; should not contain common abbreviations; should not refer to any particular species; should not be offensive; and should be unique.

Because of this, MARCH1 has become MARCHF1, the Verge adds.

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