Paul N Hengen pnh at
Fri Feb 23 12:21:04 EST 1996


The confussion about the terms `sense' and `anti-sense' and the discepancies
found throughout both scientific journals and molecular biology textbooks was
recently discussed on bionet.molbio.methds-reagnts. A huge thread which
essentially grew into an electronic bulletin board virtual conference concluded
that Dr. Richard Moldwin's <rmoldwin at> proposal is probably
the best solution to the problem.  The proposal is that the terminology for the
strands of DNA with respect to transcription should be as follows:

When referring to DNA, the terms should be `Transcribed Strand' (the
anti-parallel complementary strand to the mRNA) of a specific gene and
`Non-Transcribed Strand' (the strand with the same sequence as the mRNA) of a
specific gene.  These can be shortened to the T-strand of gene X and the
N-strand of gene X.  The T-strand of gene X could also be the N-strand of gene
Y if X and Y are read from the same region of the DNA.  Since the gene is
defined, these terms can be used without confusion.

When referring to RNA, messenger RNA read from the T-strand should be
designated as sense RNA, and the anti-parallel complement to that message
designated as anti-sense RNA.

Earlier this month I took a poll of votes on this proposal. Please DO NOT
send any votes now! The deadline was 16 February 1996.

Your vote was either:

yes = adopt this terminology


no = do not adopt this terminology

The results follow:

92 people voted by e-mail....

87 people voted yes = adopt this terminology
5  people voted no = do not adopt this terminology

The decision of what number of votes would pass and what percentage of yes/no
votes would be reasonable for a pass has yet to be made. In my mind it appears
that there is an overwhelming yes vote.  The next question is what should be
done with the vote results. I am planning to write a review of this past
discussion and the results of the vote to be published in the April 1996 issue
of TIBS within my monthly column. If anyone else would like to help prepare a
letter to the editor of another journal, suggest an alternative, or refute the
results of this vote in this newsgroup or bionet.journals.letters.tibs, you are
welcome to do so.

Paul N. Hengen, Ph.D. (pnh at
National Cancer Institute--FCRDC--Frederick, Maryland 21702-1201 USA
phone:(301) 846-5581 fax:(301) 846-5598
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