I was trembling like a Chihuahua after a thunderclap from too many Frappuccinos, but ravenous as I reached the Kenmore Arms. I jiggled the key in the lock until it yielded and kicked the door open. I yanked open the fridge but it was emptier than a politician’s promise. But wait. Lurking inside the deli compartment was a small plastic container from Suzy’s Sushi. I held my breath as I pried it open. California rolls of uncertain vintage.
Do I dare? No. I snapped the container shut and flung it into the trash. Do I dare to eat a peach? Yes.
I curled up in the armchair with a can of peaches, a shot of bourbon and a copy of Science. The subhead of the article that grabbed my attention read: “Two factors that controls [sic] synapse formation in the mammalian brain are associated with human language acquisition.” Language is like my thing, you know, so I read on: “[A] secreted protein called sushi repeat-containing protein X-linked 2…promotes mammalian vocalization.” Got that? Yeah, I said “sushi repeat-containing protein.” The article continues, “Expression of this protein is known to be repressed by the transcription factor foxhead box protein P2.”
OK. Who’s the wise guy? I thought I’d dodged the whole sushi-repeat fiasco. I know scientists have an oddball sense of humor but this was puzzling. I searched online for molecules with strange names. I found a few. All right, more than a few here: http://www.chm.bris.ac.uk/sillymolecules/sillymols.htm, including moronic acid, vomitoxin, spamol and many more. But no sushi repeat or foxhead box. I need help. Any molecular biologists out there? Can you tell me who came up with the mystery terms and why?