Nomenclature Guidelines
NC-IUPHAR (the International Union of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology Committee on Receptor Nomenclature and Drug Classification) has the mission of:
  1. Issuing guidelines for receptor and ion channel classification, and addressing the main issues in pharmacology today,
  2. Classifying the major receptor and ion channel systems,
  3. Facilitating the interface between the discovery of new sequences from the Human Genome Project and the designation of the derived proteins as functional receptors and ion channels – also designating the receptor polymorphisms which are functionally important,
  4. Setting up a website with access to data on all known receptor systems, freely available to all scientists, anywhere in the world.
NC-IUPHAR has established close links with the HUGO Gene Nomenclature Committee (HGNC), which attributes human gene names; the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), to standardise correct use of drug names; and the International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (IUBMB) to collaborate on receptor-related enzyme nomenclature. NC-IUPHAR publishes official reports in Pharmacological Reviews [list of publications] and maintains an online database (IUPHAR-DB: giving peer-reviewed pharmacological, chemical, genetic, functional and anatomical information on the 354 nonsensory G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), 71 ligand-gated ion channel subunits and 141 voltage-gated-like ion channel subunits encoded by the human, rat and mouse genomes.
A letter of guidance to journal editors can be downloaded from
The following are links to relevant NC-IUPHAR pages and publications describing receptor nomenclature.
G Protein-Coupled Receptors
IUPHAR GPCR nomenclature available from
Voltage-gated Ion Channels
IUPHAR VGIC nomenclature available from
Ligand-gated Ion Channels
The nomenclature of ligand-gated ion channels and their subunits has recently been re-examined by NC-IUPHAR. Their revised recommendations for nomenclature are summarised here.
IUPHAR LGIC nomenclature published in
Collingridge GL, Olsen RW, Peters J, Spedding M. (2009)
A nomenclature for ligand-gated ion channels. Neuropharmacology. 56 (1): 2-5 [PDF][Full Text]
Nuclear Hormone Receptors
IUPHAR NHR nomenclature published in
Germain P, Staels B, Dacquet C, Spedding M, Laudet V. (2006)
Overview of Nomenclature of Nuclear Receptors. Pharmacol Rev. 58 (4): 685-704 [PDF][Full Text]
Guidelines for nomenclature of new receptor subtypes
Vanhoutte PM, Humphrey, PPA, Spedding, M. (1996)
International Union of Pharmacology. XI. Recommendations for nomenclature of new receptor subtypes. Pharmacol Rev. 48 (1): 1-2 [PDF]
Recommendations on terms and symbols in quantitative pharmacology
Neubig RR, Spedding M, Kenakin T, Christopoulos A. (2003)
International Union of Pharmacology Committee on Receptor Nomenclature and Drug Classification. XXXVIII. Update on terms and symbols in quantitative pharmacology. Pharmacol Rev. 55 (4): 597-606 [PDF][Full Text]
Further information and advice concerning the nomenclature of existing and newly discovered receptors and ion channels may be obtained by contacting us.



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