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Funny names (of genes and so) in bioscience - (Jan/09/2014 )

The case of JAK kinases (initially called 'Just another kinase, hahahah!' later, when it was found, mutation in JAK2 causes serious condition, renamed to 'Janus kinase' to fix the embarassment) and RING finger domain (where the RING apparently stands for 'really interesting new gene') get me the idea of topic for posting funny names of genes, proteins, domains.. stuff.. 


I knew before, that fly scientists have a weird sense of humor.. naming Drosophila genes first by the phenotype they caused (like wingless), which is fairly understandable, but later just naming them.. weird.. like even-skipped, fushi tarazu (which should mean something like odd-skipped in japanese) and sonic hedgehog.

Sadly for us, these names survived into human homologues too ;)


I found this link with some other "funny names".



Do you know any more? :)




I also know a fly species with the (gap-) genes orthodenticle (no idea what it means), hunchback, zerknüllt (German for screwed up), Knirps (German for something like munchkin or tiddler) and Krüppel (German for cripple). Some of them are derived from Drosophila too.  I guess they are referring to developmental flaws when not or enough expressed...


We learnt at school that the Drosophila deltaC mutant was originally called "Beamter", the german word for clerk/official/civil servant, as development stopped after 4 somites...and officials always stop working at 4 p.m. :D


Zebrafish has also a few:


tiggywinkle hedgehog


einstein, menhir, keinstein, half stoned, rolling stones (puns with number of otoliths in the fish's inner ear: "einstein" means one otolith, "keinstein" means no otolith, half stoned: initially no otoliths or tiny ones, rolling stones: loose otoliths)


Wonder if plants have such gene names? huh.png


Just got along this gene:

A metalloprotease structural gene called zapA in honour of Frank Zappa. In the acknowledgement it reads:  "We especially thank the late Frank Zappa for inspiration and assistance with genetic nomenclature." biggrin.png

The paper is available from here: