Researchers have long debated on how smart certain animals are. A new study places squids and octopuses among them, as the researchers discovered their impressive ability to escape trouble. This is stunning, as their way to avoid difficult situations is possible through some sort of genetic manipulation.
Octopuses are incredibly flexible
This new study, published in the journal Cell, analyzed how squids and octopuses manage to get themselves out of difficult situations. Some of them might be performing contorting moves just to escape from enclosures. For instance, there is evidence of octopuses getting out of closed jars, or being able to make moves apparently impossible for them.
Researchers claimed to have found an explanation for this mechanic flexibility of octopuses. This might be caused by a genetic flexibility, namely their RNA can be rewritten. This is a peculiar process which affects even the proteins found in the neurons of the octopuses.
A process of genetic editing lies behind the flexibility
The normal process consists of the conversion of DNA into RNA. This conversion also leads to the production of proteins. Sometimes, cells choose to modify RNA and not DNA. When this happens, these cells replace the typical adenosine protein found in RNA with a different one, called inosine.
These different RNA molecules seem to be of help for octopuses. Instead of rejecting them, they use them to create new proteins. This method is productive, as one single gene can be used to produce more types of proteins. Usually, a gene was responsible with the production of only one kind of protein. This process is called recording.
There are some external factors which prompt animals to resort to recording. A cold environment is one of them. The colder the environment is, the more instances of recording will the octopus perform. For instance, the octopuses living around Antarctica may modify nine spots in an RNA sequence.
More precisely, it affects the amino-acids which build up a potassium sequence. A lower temperature influences the speed at which these potassium sequences close up. Thus, the octopuses in the area experience a double rate of such sequences.
This study highlights the amazing properties of octopuses and squids and how they interact with the environment. Moreover, it can open the path of the study of gene editing and the role it plays in adaptation.
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