Molecular Mystery with a Side of Sushi

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.

California_RollsWikimedia Commons

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:, including moronic acid, vomitoxin, spamol and many more. Spam_(2848174803)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?

This entry was posted in English language, etymology, food and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Molecular Mystery with a Side of Sushi

  1. S. O. says:

    Funny! Delightful! Thanks Judy.


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