When you discover a gene/protein/other cool biological thing, you get to name it. Some people choose really boring names, like interleukin-27. But others are more creative with their naming… I’m particularly fond of the following ‘cuz of their fun names:
- Indian hedgehog (and its friends, Desert & Sonic hedgehog)
- Tiggy-winkle hedgehog (obviously, I’m a fan of the hedgehogs… and I just recently learned this one existed!)
- Jagged 1
- Nox1 (interestingly, in Harry Potter “nox” is the spell used to turn off your wandlight after you’ve used “lumos” to turn your wandlight on. Coincidence? Probably).
- chicken forkhead
- (Sarah, this one is for you!) Diablo, a.k.a. Smac!
Sometimes, a lot of people “discover” the same protein and so it gets a lot of names, like Runt-related transcription factor 2 (Runx2), which is also known as: Cbfa1, Osf2, AML3, Til1, and Pebp2 αA or PPB2αA… talk about having an identity crisis!
After writing my list, I Googled “funny gene names” to see what other funny names are out their and discovered on this site that there are waaaaaaay better gene names that I’ve never heard of before (probably the best on this list are “cheap date”, “lunatic fringe”, “grim” and “reaper” (which work together to control cell death), and “INDY, which makes mutant fruit flies live twice as long… it’s an acronym for “I’m not dead yet”” (from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”).