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Guidelines for human gene nomenclature

Standardized gene naming is crucial for effective communication about genes, and as genomics becomes increasingly important in health care, the need for a consistent language to refer to human genes becomes ever more essential. Here, we present the current HUGO Gene Nomenclature Committee (HGNC) guidelines for naming not only protein-coding genes but also RNA genes and pseudogenes, and we outline the changes in approach and ethos that have resulted from the discoveries of the past few decades.

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Fig. 1: The HGNC’s systematic process for naming lncRNA genes.


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We thank all current and former members of the HGNC team, particularly the late professor Sue Povey, who was HGNC’s principal investigator from 1996 to 2007, and our specialist advisors and advisory-board members past and present. The HGNC relies heavily on the expertise and feedback of researchers, and we are grateful for all input that we receive. The HGNC is currently funded by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) grant U24HG003345 (to E.A.B.) and Wellcome Trust grant 208349/Z/17/Z (to E.A.B.).

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E.A.B. directed and obtained funding for the project. E.A.B., R.L.S. and S.T. wrote the original draft. E.A.B., R.L.S., S.T., B.B. and T.E.M.J. revised the manuscript. T.E.M.J. designed Fig. 1. All authors contributed to, and commented on, the manuscript before submission and contributed to the development of the current nomenclature guidelines.

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Correspondence to Elspeth A. Bruford.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Supplementary Information

Supplementary Note and Table 1–4 HGNC Guidelines 2020_Supplementary

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Bruford, E.A., Braschi, B., Denny, P. et al. Guidelines for human gene nomenclature. Nat Genet 52, 754–758 (2020).

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