Octopuses Can Rewrite Their RNA

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Researchers have found out that coleoid cephalopods (which include octopuses, squids, and cuttlefish) have an uncanny ability to recode their RNA.

According to the study published in the journal Cell, coleoid cephalopods have an unusually high number of sites for recoding RNA in the cells of their nervous system. This, in turn, gives these cephalopods the ability to produce more diverse proteins for neural function.

“This trade-off between genome evolution and transcriptome plasticity highlights the importance of RNA recording as a strategy for diversifying proteins, particularly those associated with neural function,” the authors of the study stated.

While up to 60 percent of the RNA transcript database in coleoid cephalopods can be recoded, just one percent of the RNA transcript database in humans can be recoded.

While RNA recoding gives many advantages to coleoid cephalopods, there is a price for this. According to researchers, these animals have had to give up genetic mutation.

“Mutation is usually thought of as the currency of natural selection, and these animals are suppressing that to maintain recoding flexibility at the RNA level,” Dr. Joshua Rosenthal, a co-author of the study, said.