Our gene of the month is the adventurous Scott of the Antarctic, which was first discovered in fruit flies back in 1996. It was named because the protein encoded by the gene was originally thought to be involved in forming a cellular scaffold called the spindle, which helps separate chromosomes as they divide, by pulling them to each pole of the cell by means of structures called centrosomes. In Scott of the Antarctic mutant fly embryos, the centrosome of one cellular pole becomes detached and doesn’t work properly, in a not-very-good analogy to the doomed South Pole expedition by Scott and his team in 1912.
It now turns out that Robert Scott’s namesake gene is actually an overactive version of another gene called Greatwall, which is important for helping cells to divide as well as helping to coil up DNA in preparation for division. Not such an evocative name though.