Research Topic

Nomenclature: Avoiding Babylonian Speech Confusion in Present Day Immunology

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The complexity of the immune system at the gene, protein, cell and organism level continues to provide a major challenge. Genomic landscape analysis, single-cell analysis and mass data acquisition encompassing genomics, transcriptomics, metabolomics and proteomics have now added new levels of complexity. With ...

The complexity of the immune system at the gene, protein, cell and organism level continues to provide a major challenge. Genomic landscape analysis, single-cell analysis and mass data acquisition encompassing genomics, transcriptomics, metabolomics and proteomics have now added new levels of complexity. With the rapid progress in these and other fields of immunology, it has become more important than ever to agree on a nomenclature, i.e. to agree on a consensus for naming novel genes, proteins, cells and biological reagents related to the immune system. Names that were given initially may, in retrospect, not always be logical. In addition, researchers approaching a gene product from different angles may generate entirely different names for the same gene product. An example is the cytokine Interleukin-6, which was initially known as B-cell stimulatory factor 2; cytotoxic T lymphocyte differentiation factor; hybridoma growth factor; hepatocyte stimulating factor and interferon beta-2. In these cases, such usage of different names for the same item can lead to confusion and this may hinder progress in the field. Therefore, it is important for the experts in the immunology field to agree on a unified nomenclature.

The immunological community has, in fact, an excellent track record of conducting worldwide cooperative efforts on nomenclature issues. Remarkable examples of these include the establishment of the nomenclature for antigen receptor (IG and TR) genes, cytokines and chemokines and their receptors, as well as allergens, cell types and of the CD nomenclature for monoclonal antibodies.

With the many achievements reached in the past 40 years, there is a wealth of experience to draw upon, especially within the sub-committees of the Nomenclature Committee of the International Union of Immunological Societies (IUIS; www.iuisonline.org). The IUIS Nomenclature Committee is fostering nomenclature efforts by providing a platform that currently includes the activities of altogether 11 nomenclature subcommittees (Nomenclature Committee)

With the present Research Topic, we aim to highlight the need to address controversies and to stress the importance of nomenclature based on consensus within the immunology community. This Research Topic welcomes the submission of Original Research articles, Reviews, Mini-Reviews, Classification and Perspective articles that can provide a (historical) overview, challenge current standards, raise a new/potential issue, and propose new standards, on the following aspects of nomenclature in the immune system:

1. Genes – including, but not restricted to, families of genes or complex loci with important functions in the immune system, such as antigen receptors (IG/TR genes) and HLA/MHC.
2. Proteins including post-translational modifications – including, but not restricted to, families of antigen and pattern recognition receptors, activation/inhibition receptors, cytokines, chemokines and their receptors, and signaling molecules (kinases, phosphatases) and transcription factors involved in regulating lymphocytes and innate immune cells.
3. Cells – including cells of the myeloid and lymphoid lineages, as well as non-haematopoietic mesenchymal stem cells and fibroblasts with defined functions in the immune response.
4. Allergens – including, but not limited to, food and aero-allergens, venoms, and medication.
5. Biological reagents – including but not limited to recombinant proteins, monoclonal antibodies and small molecule inhibitors of protein function.

Articles published within this Research Topic may include suggestions of nomenclature. However, this does not imply that the suggested nomenclature has been approved by the IUIS Nomenclature Committee (http://www.iuisonline.org/index). A nomenclature can be labelled as approved by the IUIS Nomenclature Committee only following official approval by the IUIS Nomenclature Committee. Any questions regarding an official approval of a nomenclature should be directed to the IUIS Nomenclature Chair or the relevant Subcommittee Chair.

We acknowledge the initiation and support of this Research Topic by the International Union of Immunological Societies (IUIS). A/Prof. Menno van Zelm currently serves as the chairman for the IUIS Nomenclature Committee; Prof. Pablo Engel is the chair of the IUIS CD Nomenclature Sub-Committee; Prof. Loems Ziegler-Heitbrock is the chair of the IUIS Monocytes and Dendritic Cells in Blood Sub-Committee; Asst. Prof. Sanny Chan is a member of the WHO / IUIS Allergen Nomenclature Sub-Committee and A/Prof. Andrew Collins is co-chair of the Germline Gene Database (GLDB) Working Group of the Adaptive Immune Receptor Repertoire community (AIRR-C) and chair of the Inferred Allele Review Committee (IARC).


Keywords: immunology, gene, protein, antibody, allergen


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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