Antisense and sensibilities

Ferland Louis H. ferlandl at ERE.UMontreal.CA
Sat Jan 13 01:04:56 EST 1996

On Wed, 10 Jan 1996, Tracy Aquilla wrote:

> Date: Wed, 10 Jan 96 20:49:31 GMT
> From: Tracy Aquilla <aquilla at>
> To: methods at
> Subject: Re: Antisense and sensibilities
> In Article <Stephen_Lasky-0901961015170001 at>,
> Stephen_Lasky at (Stephen R. Lasky) wrote:
> [snip]
> >The problem of naming strands probably arose initially from the
> >anthropomorphization of the central dogma:  Harking back to the original
> >definitions (in which the DNA sense strand hybridized to the mRNA), if the
> >RNA pol "read" and transcribed that strand it made an mRNA that made sense
> >to the ribosomes when they went to translate it. I believe that this is
> >the opposite of  the description above (sense DNA = sense RNA (mRNA) which
> >seems to be in current usage.  But I think that our goal should be to get
> >away from using sense and anti-sense to describe strands in the DNA.
> I agree. I found out last year that I use the 'outdated' terminology
> ("harking back to the original definitions") when discussing an aspect of my
> research with a colleague who had been trained more recently than I. What a
> PITA! I said anti-sense, he said sense, even though we were talking about
> the same strand.
> >Why not define the strands based on the action that is taken on them:  the
> >transcribed strand (T-Strand) (for the anti-parallel complementary strand
> >to the mRNA), and the non-transcirbed stand (N-Strand) for the strand with
> >the same sequence as the mRNA? The name of the gene that is transcribed
> >can be added if it has not already been defined (as suggested by Dr.
> >Moldwin).   mRNA should be mRNA or sense-RNA, and anti-Sense RNA should be
> >the anti-parallel complement to the message.  I don't see any ambiguity in
> >this system.
> Agreed, this might be better. However, there will be some ambiguity in cases
> of overlapping genes, which are becoming more common as more DNA is sequenced.
>     Tracy

Any ambiguity of this sort can be prevented by naming the reference gene 
(which would be required with *any* nomenclature, and as posted before by 
myself and others). It seems we may have a go. Bravo, Stephen!

Dr. Louis H. Ferland
Centre de Recherche, Hotel-Dieu de Montreal
Dept de Nutrition, Universite de Montreal
Phone: (514) 843-2757     FAX: (514) 843-2719

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