Zbtb7, originally named Pokemon, is a gene that may act as a master switch for cancer, and is responsible for the proliferation of cancer throughout surrounding cells. The leader of the research team which discovered this, geneticist Pier Paolo Pandolfi from the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in New York City, said the gene is unique in that it is needed for other oncogenes to cause cancer.[1] Discovery of the gene was first published in the January 2005 issue of Nature.[2]

The original name, Pokemon, stands for "POK erythroid myeloid ontogenic factor" and is most likely a backronym of the Pokémon media franchise. The Pokémon Company, not wanting the bad press inherent with its trademark sharing a name with a cancer-causing gene, threatened the center with legal action in December 2005, at which point MSKCC decided to rename it as Zbtb7.[3]


See also

  • Sonic hedgehog, a protein that is named after a video game character.
  • Pikachurin, a retinal protein named after a Pokémon character.


  1. ^ Jai A. Dennison (2005-01-20). "Switching Off 'Pokemon' Gene May Block Cancer-Cell Formation". Daily News Central. Archived from the original on 2012-07-19. Retrieved 2006-06-27. 
  2. ^ Takahiro Maeda, Robin M. Hobbs; et al. (2005-01-20). "Role of the proto-oncogene Pokemon in cellular transformation and ARF repression". Nature. 433 (7023): 278–285. doi:10.1038/nature03203. PMID 15662416. Retrieved 2006-06-27. 
  3. ^ Brendan Sinclair (2005-12-19). "Pokémon USA threatens to sue cancer researchers". GameSpot. Retrieved 2016-01-31.