more impressed with cephalopods than myself - taking consciousness to the next level!
Wired |Science Reveals Yet Another Reason Octopuses and Squid Are So Weird
OCTOPUSES ARE ALIENS living on Earth. They solve puzzles, use tools, and communicate with color. They also squirt ink, open jars, and occasionally pull a prank or two. Given their remarkable intelligence and cunning ways, it takes a lot to surprise the biologists who study these wonderful creatures and their equally weird cousins the squids and cuttlefish.
But when Stanford University geneticist Jin Billy Li heard about Joshua Rosenthal’s work on RNA editing in squid, his jaw dropped. That’s because the work, published today in the journal Cell, revealed that many cephalopods present a monumental exception to how living things use the information in DNA to make proteins. In nearly every other animal, RNA—the middleman in that process—faithfully transmits the message in the genes. But octopuses, squid, and cuttlefish (but not their dumber relatives, the nautiluses) edit their RNA, changing the message that gets read out to make proteins.
Subbing out one spot in the code may seem like a minor switcheroo, but it can change how—or whether—a protein functions. Theoretically, it changes the genome’s level of complexity: Humans possess just two copies of a given gene, but add a few RNA editing sites and the number of protein variants rises exponentially. An animal could use RNA editing to change how its proteins work if its environment changes. For instance, some RNA in squid get edited when the weather changes so that their proteins work properly at different temperatures.