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gene symbol and dominance

Hong Ma in Delbruck mah at CSHL.ORG
Sat Sep 18 08:49:19 EST 1993

Dear Colleagues:
I would like to express my support for continued use of a simple nomenclature
system.  I agree with others that dominance is relative and can vary depending
on the genetic background, alleles being compared, and the particular assays
used to test the gene function.  I would like to go further to say that the
most important function of a gene symbol and allele designation is to
identify a particular gene and allele.  The functional and structural 
information associated with a particular gene and allele, while important,
can not be included all in the designation.  Dominance is but one possible
relationship between two alleles, the other possible ones include 
co-dominance, intragenic complementation, and non-complementation.  Of
course, simple dominance of one allele over the other is the most frequent
situation.  Nevertheless, the usefulness of uniquely designate a dominant
mutant allele is out weighted by the possible confusion with wild-type
allele, and the uncertainty as to which alleles are being compared.
For information not included in the symbols, one must rely one reading the
literature on the alleles.  As Chris Somerville has pointed, as more and
more information is accessable through computers, it is going to be very 
simple to retrieve information on a particular mutant.

I strongly believe a nomenclature system should contain a few unambiguous
rules which everyone follow.  A name is just a name, one needs to read
a biography to learn more about the person.

Hong Ma

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