Naming Proteins

To be able to discuss proteins, we need to give them names. Naming conventions vary between different areas of biology. We have already seen how enzymes such as DNA polymerase are named for the reaction they catalyze. Many proteins have names that describe their structure or their role in cells, such as hemoglobin and connexin. However, the pace with which new proteins are being discovered at the moment means that many are not given proper names but are simply referred to by their size: p38 (page 418) and p53 (page 415) have relative molecular masses of about 38,000 and about 53,000, respectively. Clearly this could cause confusion, so we sometimes add the name of the gene as a superscript: p16INK4a is a protein of relative molecular mass (Mr) of about 16,000 that is the product of the INK4a gene.

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