HUGO Gene Nomenclature Committee
The HUGO Gene Nomenclature Committee (HGNC) approves a unique and meaningful name for every known human gene. In addition to the long name, the HGNC also assigns an abbreviation (referred to as symbol by HGNC) to every gene. The HGNC is part of the Human Genome Organisation (HUGO).
Especially gene abbreviations but also full gene names are often not specific for a single gene. Many abbrevations can be linked to 2 or more different genes. Examples include duplicated abbreviations like ACT which can mean either acyl-CoA thioesterase or antichymotrypsin . A more extreme example is CAP which can refer to any of 5 different genes .
The HGNC short gene names unlike previous forms are 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 species, for example "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 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."