Synthetic Biology:BioBricks/Naming a new biological part

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There are no absolute rules for naming new parts for submission into the Registry of Standard Biological Parts. However, there are a few conventions that will make it easier for others to find and use your parts.



In the name of a BioBrick, the BB represents BioBricks.


The a represents the fact that this is the alpha version of the registry and therefore an alpha part.


The X represents the part type and is indicated by a capital letter (A-Z). Certain letters represent specific common classes of parts. It is this letter that is most often chosen incorrectly when naming new parts. Consult the table below for each letter's designated meaning.

Part types

Basic Part Types Composite Part Types
Type Description Type Description
R Regulatory Operator region E Reporter Compound reporter devices
B RBS Ribosome binding site Q Inverter Inverter and logic
C CDS Protein coding sequence Composite Other composite parts
B Terminator Transcriptional terminator I Project Student projects
RNA RNA binding sites and coding P Protein generator PoPS-to-Protein converter or protein expression cassettes
F Signalling Cell-cell signalling Measurement Performance measurement constructs
E Reporter Basic reporter CDS T Temporary Temporary and trial parts
M Tag Tag or Modifier S Intermediate Generated during assembly
V Plasmid Plasmids Other Parts not yet classified
V Cells Cell strains
Y Yeast Yeast parts
Z T7 T7 parts
G Primer Primer sequences or primer binding sites


The nnnn is a 4-6 digit number representing the specific part itself. Together with the letter specifying the part type, it constitutes an unique designation of the part. Attempting to add a new part with an existing part name will cause an error when using the Registry.

In general, similar parts, especially those created at the same time, will have part numbers that are close together.

Future naming schemes

There is a recognition that the current registry naming scheme has a few flaws.

  1. Existing conventions are not enforced uniformly leading to confusing part names.
  2. Not all part types are represented in the table above and there is no formal mechanism for creating new part types.
  3. The existing naming scheme may not convey enough information. (See the vector naming scheme for a scheme that seeks to convey more information in the vector name.)
  4. The part types are inconsistent in their resolution. (For instance, all yeast parts are grouped together but Escherichia coli parts are divided out.)

There is a preliminary proposal for a new Registry organization at the Registry Wish List. Please contribute to the discussion.


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