Human Gene Nomenclature


The HUGO Gene Nomenclature Committee (HGNC) was founded in 1977 to provide a single worldwide authority to assign standardized human gene symbols, and remains one of the essential components of human gene and genome management. The HGNC has two overriding goals: providing a unique nomenclature for every human gene, and ensuring that this information is freely available, widely disseminated and universally recognized. Effective communication between the scientific community, healthcare professionals and the general public is key to our understanding of the wealth of information encoded in the human genome. It is important for future progress in this field that each of these groups refer to the same gene by the same unique name and symbol, in discussions and in publications, and the HGNC aims to facilitate this by assigning such names and symbols to every human gene.

Key concepts

standardization of gene nomenclature; utility of standardized gene names; gene names in genome databases; gene naming guidelines; gene naming across species; gene families.

Keywords: nomenclature; gene symbol; gene name; database; HGNC

Further Reading

Bruford EA, Lush MJ, Wright MW et al. (2008) The HGNC Database in 2008: a resource for the human genome. Nucleic Acids Research 36: D445–D448.

Bult CJ, Eppig JT, Kadin JA et al. (2008) The Mouse Genome Database (MGD): mouse biology and model systems. Nucleic Acids Research 36: D724–D728.

Flicek P, Aken BL, Beal K et al. (2008) Ensembl 2008. Nucleic Acids Research 36: D707–D714.

Karolchik D, Kuhn RM, Baertsch R et al. (2008) The UCSC Genome Browser database: 2008 update. Nucleic Acids Research 36: D773–D779.

Maglott D, Ostell J, Pruitt KD and Tatusova T (2007) Entrez Gene: gene‐centered information at NCBI. Nucleic Acids Research 35: D26–D31.

Safran M, Chalifa‐Caspi V, Shmueli O et al. (2003) Human Gene‐Centric Databases at the Weizmann Institute of Science: GeneCards, UDB, CroW 21 and HORDE. Nucleic Acids Research 31: 142–146.

UniProt Consortium (2008) The universal protein resource (UniProt). Nucleic Acids Research 36: D190–D195.

Wright MW and Bruford EA (2006) Human and orthologous gene nomenclature. Gene 369: 1–6.

Web Links



Entrez Gene


HUGO Gene Nomenclature Committee website: includes links to a searchable online database (with numerous links out to other databases from each gene entry), nomenclature guidelines and gene family pages

Human Gene Mutation Database

Mouse Genome Informatics


Rat Genome Database





Contact Editor close
Submit a note to the editor about this article by filling in the form below.

* Required Field

How to Cite close
Bruford, Elspeth A(Dec 2008) Human Gene Nomenclature. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0006007.pub2]