Octopuses Rapidly Respond to Environmental Temperature by Using RNA Editing to Alter Protein Function; RNA Editing May Be Clue to Complexity of Octopus Behavior; Article Published in Cell

Each cell comes with a finite set of instructions encoded in its DNA. Life, however, is unpredictable, and when circumstances change, animals need flexibility to acclimate. New research led by Joshua Rosenthal, PhD, of the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) and Eli Eisenberg, PhD, at Tel Aviv University indicates that octopuses and their close relatives elegantly adjust to environmental challenges by tinkering with their RNA — an intermediary molecule that conveys DNA’s directions. In a new study appearing in Cell on June 8, 2023, Dr. Rosenthal and colleagues document an enormous uptick in RNA editing when octopus, squid, and cuttlefish, known as coleoid cephalopods, acclimate to cold water. After cooling the octopuses’ tanks, the team saw increases in protein-altering activity at more than 13,000 RNA sites in the animals’ nervous systems. In two of these cases, the scientists investigated how swapping out a single letter of the RNA molecule’s code alters the function of proteins the neurons produce. The open-access Cell article is titled “Temperature-Dependent RNA Editing in Octopus Extensively Recodes the Neural Proteome.” 

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