What is the gt in lambda gt10 or gt11?

Brian Smith-White smithwhi at students.msu.edu
Fri Mar 18 19:22:00 EST 1994

In Article <1994Mar18.134146.7541 at midway.uchicago.edu> "mg16 at ellis.uchicago.edu (Mark D. Garfinkel)" says:
> smithwhi at students.msu.edu  (Brian Smith-White) posts:
> >> >> [prior poster attribution deleted] The 'gt' label was good
> >> >> advertising for Young and Davis, but is it good terminology?
> >        The vocabulary is explicitly designated in the original literature -
> >        PNAS 71,4579 (1974). Since you claim to have read the original
> >        literature I will provide the quote for those of us who obviously
> >        don't have either the time or the inclination to read and forget.
> >        TERMINOLOGY. The term lambda gt (generalized transducer) designates
> >        that portion of the lambda genome that is common to all the hybrid
> >        DNA molecules and contains all of the essential genes for plaque
> >        formation." (So much for the "garbage truck" theory put forth in an
> >        accompanying note.)
> 	I can't help but wonder if Mr. Smith-White had *never* heard of
> the Thomas (Cameron) and Davis, 1974, PNAS paper he so thoughtfully quoted
> before I posted the pointer to it. If so, the least he could have done is
> acknowledge publically that fact. 
	As a matter of fact, I had to go to my reference database and
determine the location of the copy in my personal collection of photocopies
of papers that are pertinent to my work. But, in the interest of conforming
to the official reality, I admit (in a plea bargin) to having scanned onto
floppy disks all of the issues of PNAS from 1970 to 1980 (I really am so 
incompetent as to not understand the meaning of "early 1970's") and then 
greped with "gt". 
Mr. Smith-White should be careful in his
> insinuations regarding people who "read & forget." The posters & lurkers in
> this group undoubtedly includes scientists who have been in the business
> much longer than he has, men & women who have forgotten more than he may
> ever know.
	Me thinks he protesteth too much. (Paraphrased from Shakespeare)
> 	As for his dismissal of the "garbage truck" theory: I posted that
> my authority is a scientist now-eminent in his own right, who had been one
> of Ron Davis's graduate students of that era. I so much as said my source
> was one of four named individuals. Someone sufficiently motivated could
> contact any of them for corroboration. I posted that "garbage truck" likely
> wouldn't be found in the literature. I stand by, reiterate, and amplify my
> earlier statement: "garbage truck" is the original meaning of "gt" in
> cloning vector terminology, given by the Davis lab technician who built the
> earliest of the vectors. Since she didn't write the papers, "generalized
> transducer" was the sanitized form chosen for publication.
	Are we to read this description and come to the conclusion that R. 
Davis would spend time to arrive at "generalized transducer" as a publically
tidy basis for the acronym "gt" and could not simply require that the public 
description had the name of the phage without the acronym "gt"? (comparable to
the meaning of "B" in RC5B) DuPont initially made a "new and better" high 
speed centrifuge model, the RC5. When the replacement came out approximately
1 year later with RC5B, it was immediately noted that the "B" stood for
"better". The humor is evident only to those who have had to endure using an
RC5 machine. However, I would require a large amount of very potent drugs to 
believe that DuPont engineers were working on the RC5-better and, as a cost-
cutting move by some sales/marketing wizard, this was shortened to RC5B. In 
the same vein, I could believe at the drop of a hat that the lab-humor name,
applied after [AFTER for the comprehension-impaired] the published name, 
would be "garbage truck" since the libraries prepared with the earliest 
vectors had a large fraction of the chimeric products containing material 
which could not be readily deciphered - garbage among friends. I leave as an 
exercise in self-evidence which scenerio was explicitly proposed by Mark.
> 	Cute names, trivial meaningless names, amusingly irreverent names,
> did not begin in 1985 with biotech companies' marketing efforts.
	True, but the the copyrighting did - a subtlety that seems to have 
escaped you. If my memory serves me well - after all, I am totally incompetent
- I did indicate this distinction in the post. If you do not recognize the
distinction between being copyrighted and being not copyrighted I am sorry 
for your supervisors/superiors.
> 	Anyone care to debate the origins of "amber," "opal" and "ocher"?
	I would love to learn this - aside from the notion (no proof other
than my first exposure to this vocabulary) that they arose in phage genetics 
of the 1950's and 1960's I haven't anything more to add.
> -- 
> Mark D. Garfinkel (e-mail: garfinkl at iitmax.acc.iit.edu)
> My views are my own, which is why they're copyright 1994 (c)
> Ignore the header; I post from here only if I can't post from there.

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