RNA editing helps octopuses cope with the cold

Thursday, June 8, 2023 - 10:43 in Biology & Nature

The ocean can be a cold place to call home. Mammals like seals stay warm by enveloping themselves in a layer of thick fur and blubber. Cephalopods — the group of (mostly) ultrasmart mollusks that include squid and octopuses — don’t have that luxury. Instead, some octopuses and squid cope by altering their bodies on the molecular level. When water temperatures inside their tank dropped by 10 degrees Celsius, California two-spot octopuses (Octopus bimaculoides) changed what proteins they produce by editing vast swathes of their own RNA, researchers report June 8 in Cell. The “astounding high levels” of molecular editing — most of which occurs in the nervous system — could help octopuses’ brains function when temperatures plunge, says Joshua Rosenthal, a molecular neurobiologist at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass. Another study in Cell, also published June 8, found a similar effect of temperature on RNA editing in California market squid...

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