A short guide to long non-coding RNA gene nomenclature

Hum Genomics. 2014 Apr 9;8(1):7. doi: 10.1186/1479-7364-8-7.


The HUGO Gene Nomenclature Committee (HGNC) is the only organisation authorised to assign standardised nomenclature to human genes. Of the 38,000 approved gene symbols in our database (http://www.genenames.org), the majority represent protein-coding (pc) genes; however, we also name pseudogenes, phenotypic loci, some genomic features, and to date have named more than 8,500 human non-protein coding RNA (ncRNA) genes and ncRNA pseudogenes. We have already established unique names for most of the small ncRNA genes by working with experts for each class. Small ncRNAs can be defined into their respective classes by their shared homology and common function. In contrast, long non-coding RNA (lncRNA) genes represent a disparate set of loci related only by their size, more than 200 bases in length, share no conserved sequence homology, and have variable functions. As with pc genes, wherever possible, lncRNAs are named based on the known function of their product; a short guide is presented herein to help authors when developing novel gene symbols for lncRNAs with characterised function. Researchers must contact the HGNC with their suggestions prior to publication, to check whether the proposed gene symbol can be approved. Although thousands of lncRNAs have been predicted in the human genome, for the vast majority their function remains unresolved. lncRNA genes with no known function are named based on their genomic context. Working with lncRNA researchers, the HGNC aims to provide unique and, wherever possible, meaningful gene symbols to all lncRNA genes.

Publication types

  • Letter
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Databases, Genetic*
  • Genome, Human
  • Genomics
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Proteins / genetics*
  • RNA, Long Noncoding* / classification
  • RNA, Long Noncoding* / genetics


  • Proteins
  • RNA, Long Noncoding