Sonic the Gene
In the early 1990s, Sonic made a strange leap into the world of science when researchers Cliff Tabin, Andy Mahon and Phil Ingham discovered that a previously unnamed member of the hedgehog gene family was responsible for creating limb symmetry in animals. The trio named the gene “sonic hedgehog” after the Sega video game character.
In 2007, the HUGO Gene Nomenclature Committee (which establishes the official names for human genes) voted to change the name of sonic hedgehog and other whimsically-named genes that have become an embarrassment when doctors need to discuss genetic problems with their patients.
(Protein Illustation: Peter Znamenskiy)