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Open Access Database

RGST - Rat Gene Symbol Tracker, a database for defining official rat gene symbols

Greta Petersen1 and Fredrik Ståhl2*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Cell and Molecular Biology-Genetics, Göteborgs Universitet, Box 462, SE 40530 Göteborg, Sweden

2 School of Health Science, University Collage of Borås, SE-501 90 Borås, Sweden

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BMC Genomics 2008, 9:29  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-9-29

Published: 23 January 2008

Abstract

Background

The names of genes are central in describing their function and relationship. However, gene symbols are often a subject of controversy. In addition, the discovery of mammalian genes is now so rapid that a proper use of gene symbol nomenclature rules tends to be overlooked. This is currently the situation in the rat and there is a need for a cohesive and unifying overview of all rat gene symbols in use. Based on the experiences in rat gene symbol curation that we have gained from running the "Ratmap" rat genome database, we have now developed a database that unifies different rat gene naming attempts with the accepted rat gene symbol nomenclature rules.

Description

This paper presents a newly developed database known as RGST (Rat Gene Symbol Tracker). The database contains rat gene symbols from three major sources: the Rat Genome Database (RGD), Ensembl, and NCBI-Gene. All rat symbols are compared with official symbols from orthologous human genes as specified by the Human Gene Nomenclature Committee (HGNC). Based on the outcome of the comparisons, a rat gene symbol may be selected. Rat symbols that do not match a human ortholog undergo a strict procedure of comparisons between the different rat gene sources as well as with the Mouse Genome Database (MGD). For each rat gene this procedure results in an unambiguous gene designation. The designation is presented as a status level that accompanies every rat gene symbol suggested in the database. The status level describes both how a rat symbol was selected, and its validity.

Conclusion

This database fulfils the important need of unifying rat gene symbols into an automatic and cohesive nomenclature system. The RGST database is available directly from the RatMap home page: http://ratmap.org webcite.