You don’t see enough of this

Way back when people used to clone single genes and analyse their sequence (about 10 years ago), Wassif, Cheek and Belas described an extracellular metalloprotease from the swarming bacterium, Proteus mirabilis. It turns out that this protein is one of many virulence factors involved with urinary tract infection.
I mention this because in the acknowledgements of their paper (PDF, 352 KB) the authors, who hail from Baltimore, thank “the late Frank Zappa for inspiration and assistance with genetic nomenclature”. Yes, the protease is named ZapA. I hope there’s still room for these fun moments in publications – although it doesn’t really move us towards the goal of standard gene nomenclature.

2 thoughts on “You don’t see enough of this

  1. Its alive and well. I saw a Bacillus gene the other day called ymcA. I’ll dig out the reference in a moment!

  2. I once acknowledged a colleague for “pharmacological support” in a paper containing only theory. He had sent me a pound of excellent coffee. The editors (Nature!) didn’t notice.

    And we named a gene sxy, with mutations called sxy-1 (“sexy one”) and sxy-2 (“sexy too”). It controls the induction of natural competence in Haemophilus influenzae, and the mutations cause hyper-competence.

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