According to Ken Maclean in a letter to Nature, patients don’t like it when clever geneticists name genes after cartoon characters, video game characters, and Monty Python characters (see here if you don’t follow). I’m not sure if I can reproduce the letter or if it’s under copyright protection (now that I’m working for the man, I don’t wanna be breaking no laws), but it’s available here. The gist of it is, if you’re ill (not like the Beastie Boys, but like dying from cancer), you don’t wanna be told that your Pokemon or Sonic hedgehog gene is all fucked up.

Update: Here is some more on gene names inspired by mythology.


  1. #1 coturnix
    January 20, 2006

    Humorless, grouchy patients! If I got seriously sick I’d love to have a funny side to my disease. At least without the human version of hairy I would not even have been born…

  2. #2 PhilipJ
    January 22, 2006

    If only I was over-expressing Hunchback instead of sitting at the computer all day…

    A little education on how gene names get chosen (as they almost all have interesting stories behind them, at least from the Drosophila world) for anyone who gets alarmed would probably go a long way.

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