Octopuses tweak the RNA in their brains to adjust to warmer and cooler waters

Octopuses can edit the RNA in their brains to adapt to temperature changes in their environment, according to a study published in the journal Cell.

Background: Octopuses, known for their intelligence and problem-solving abilities, have sophisticated brains and complex nervous systems that require maintenance at stable temperatures.
* Maintaining a complex nervous system in fluctuating temperatures presents challenges that octopuses have overcome through a unique cellular mechanism.

Key findings: The research shows that octopuses edit more than 60% of the RNAs in their brains to adapt to temperature changes, offering a more flexible alternative to DNA adaptations that take generations.
* Over 20,000 different locations on various proteins that were edited were found, with increased editing occurring in cooler conditions.
* Octopuses can make these edits in less than a day, creating multiple protein versions suited to different scenarios.

Future implications: The findings could help scientists understand how to utilize this RNA-editing ability for therapeutic purposes, such as pain reduction or repairing harmful mutations that cause disease.
* Further research is needed to determine how these changes impact an octopus’s daily behavior, and whether this strategy is viable against climate change and warming oceans.

View original article on NPR

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