Clearly, the molecules and cells of interest for the studies performed by immunologists are also relevant for studies in many other scientific areas outside immunology. Furthermore the functional abilities of these molecules and/or cells may not be unequivocal and may vary with the system studied. Therefore, a common language becomes of the utmost importance to integrate all the relevant information. Where would biological knowledge in biology stand without English as its common language?
For these reasons, the immunologists use whenever possible a nomenclature coordinated with HGNC, the Human Genome Nomenclature Committee. However, major difficulties may persist in giving a gene and its product a unique designation, particularly due to post-translational modifications. Furthermore, referring to a function of a gene product could obviously be appealing, but would not really be flexible as with time the functions investigated change as newer assays and concepts emerge. This greatly complicates the task of obtaining a nomenclature that would be universal, unambiguous, flexible, informative, neutral, easy to remember and simple. However this makes the effort worthwhile and IUIS nomenclature committee fosters the formation of subcommittees dedicated to specific areas of nomenclature, whenever needed.
A new subcommittee should consists in scientists coming from various parts of the world, well known in a specific field and endorsed by their society or scientific community. After a wet workshop, a classical or virtual meeting, the subcommittee should seek approval for their proposed consensus nomenclature during the yearly IUIS council meeting.
The IUIS approved nomenclature will be posted on IUIS website, in addition to specific societies websites and will be submitted for publications in journals.
There are presently 10 nomenclature sub-committees approved by IUIS/WHO: Allergens, CD molecules, Chemokines, Collectins, Complement, Immunoglobulins and T cell receptors, Interleukins, KIR, MALT, monocytes, and DC.
Detailed informations can be obtained from respective subcommittee chairs and specialty websites.