The Definitive Dank Plasmid Name Tier List

There are few things that tickle biologists’ fancies as much as cheekily naming plasmids, although devising unnecessary acronyms is a close runner-up. Here is a rundown of the dankest vectors in existence.

All placements are scientific fact; dispute at the risk of being a science denier.

Plasmids are rated on these factors to determine their rank:

  • Dankness
  • Applicability of the name to the vector function
S Tier BABY

pDawn / pDusk – Coming in hot from the Moeglich lab is a set of blue light (470 nm) inducible/repressible protein expression vectors. The names are fitting, and they come in a set. Moreover, these vector names take into account the aesthetic qualities of a clean SDS-PAGE full of expressed protein. S+ Tier name.

Desert Sunrise at Joshua Tree Photograph by John Hight
“Shit, I left my transformed cells outside overnight and now they’re producing Botulism toxin again…”

pCold II – Simple, elegant, and self-descriptive, the pCold family of plasmids are cold-shock inducible expression vectors that also encode chaperones for your folding pleasure. S tier + a haiku:

In cold I delight,

yet should no expression come,

you should have sequenced.

pSHAG-MAGIC2 – You’ll find this vector hiding under the diminutive alias of pSM2C, but alas, there is no hiding the glory that is SHAG MAGIC. This vector fucks. S tier.


A Tier

pLOVE – LOVE is apparently an acronym for “Lentiviral OVErexpression”. The name isn’t clever and doesn’t offer any insight into the plasmids function but, hey man, I had to put it next on the list because what is SHAG/MAGIC without LOVE? Carried to A tier.

pSiThis under-rated vector name is truly a sleeper act of genius. Brace yourself, this vector is exactly the same as pSiM24, but the author just removed the M24 promoter making it pSi. Enlightened author from Maiti lab. A Tier.

pET28-Snoopligase / pET28-SnoopTagJr / pET28-DogTag – This comprehensive dual-epitope tagging and linking system is a certified hood classic named for the one and only patron saint of 2 AM cell culture- Snoop Dogg. A tier is for ayy, smoke weed every day.

So, How Much Weed Does Snoop Really Smoke On The Daily? | Herb

B Tier

pMULE – Now this is what I’m talking about. A mule is a work animal derived from crossing a donkey and horse; this vector is a work plasmid derived from a godless cross between multiple gateway vectors. Sinful, clever, and memorable. High B tier.

pBigT – What does the T stand for? Why is it big, specifically? Some say transgenic, but personally I think it stands for “tears”, as this is a vector for making Cre-lox mice T_T. Either way, any “Big” vector is a B tier in my book.

pBABE – I think this vector is probably familiar to a lot of you as it’s quite common. The name serves as a stark reminder that your scientific labors will always be in service of a fickle and cruel mistress.

C Tier AKA Resentful PhD Student Tier

pcDNA3.2 – The vector literally does exactly what it says. It’s a gateway vector for cloning in your cDNA, but it has both a T7 and CMV promoter for expression in mammalian cells or in vitro transcription. Lacks creativity. C tier for cDNA.

D Tier AKA Undergraduate Tier

pmStrawberry – It expresses a mutagenized form of RFP and makes me hungry, which I resent. D tier.

pNgamma1.12 – Couldn’t google to find out the alt code for gamma- D tier.

γγγγγγγγγγγγγγγγγγγγγγγγγγγγγγγγγ

F Tier AKA Forgot to upload vector map Tier

pMpGWB220, 221, 222, 223, … 406 What kind of degenerate masochist created this set of over 100 expression vectors? I had to scroll through 8 pages of Addgene to escape the pMpGWB wasteland. Moreover, the sequences aren’t even available. Who commits such atrocities? I think it goes without saying that it was a plant biologist. If the person who made these was in charge of writing hieroglyphics in King Tut’s tomb he would have just drawn a stick figure with a different number of tallies next to it for every single word- F tier, fuck you.

In Conclusion

Naming our creations is one of the few creative outlets available to the humble molecular biologist. Where else can you inject your identity and have it live on forever in the hands of a bumbling PhD student who just contaminated their stocks with GFP?

As a rule of thumb, however much time it takes to make the vector, twice as much time should be spent coming up with a dank name.

Thanks for reading.

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