Scientists at Australia’s national science agency, the CSIRO, want your help to name a new gene they have discovered which plays an important role in regulating human immunity.
The new discovery is called C6orf106, or C6. Evolutionarily, it has been a part of living things for 500 million years, being passed along from simple to complex organisms. But only now has its function in humans been demystified.
A team led by Rebecca Ambrose studied the gene, and results have been published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.
The researchers found that C6 is responsible for turning off the production of small proteins called cytokines. These are known to perform a variety of functions, including harmful ones.
The cytokines controlled by C6 have been shown to instigate abnormal cell division and have thus been implicated in lung cancer. They are also understood to cause inflammatory reactions seen in conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes. Understanding this gene and the proteins it regulates could lead to the development of targeted therapies for numerous diseases.
The researchers feel that the community can help them come up with a less dry name than the current one, which denotes the position of the gene in the human genome.
Innovate names seem to be becoming more common. For example, a new wasp species was dubbed Dolichogenidea xenomorph, due to macabre similarities between its lifecycle and that of the fictional monster in the Alien movie franchise.
So, if you think you can capture the function, importance and novelty of this gene, or just come up with a cool name, give it a go. If shortlisted, your nomination will be presented to the Human Genome Nomenclature Committee, which will make the final decision.
Your suggestion is constrained by certain hard-and-fast rules that govern the business of gene-naming. This one must start with the letter “C”, for instance. Other terms and conditions can be found here.