Monday, April 10, 2017

Can you edit your brain like a Cephalopod?

Can you edit your brain like a Cephalopod?

Cuttlefish, octopus, and squid (cephalopods) can alter the DNA of their brains to code for new amino acids and, further, proteins that are not scripted in their DNA blueprints. They edit 11-13 percent of their brains protein making codes. The RNA editing changes adenine to inosine allowing new codes for amino acids.

New research is suggesting that this excessive amount of RNA editing is causing the slowing of cephalopod evolution. This seems contradictory as they can edit as many sites as they please causing diversity. When RNA is edited, it must fold into complex shapes and stretch so that it can turn from a single to double stranded molecule. However, this causes the inability for DNA mutations to occur at these sites. By limiting DNA mutations, genetic diversity for evolutionary purposes is not occurring at a fast rate. The trade off of having a smart brain versus evolution seems like a fair trade off to me. I  would like to further know what is the fate for these cephalopods? These animals are some of the smartest and fierce predators of the sea.  I think evolution should hopefully not pull so much weight in the survival of these animals due to their RNA editing and maintaining their intelligence to be one of the top species of the sea.
 This figure shows the uniformity to RNA editing of a certain gene and how it creates the same phenotype among all three species.

Link to how RNA editing works!

1 comment:

  1. Cuttlefish are such amazing creatures. They are capable to do so many things and so this doesn't amaze me that the cuttlefish could alter the DNA of the brains. I agree with you that the smart brain versus evolution seems like a fair trade but what if the increase of smartness in the brain is part of their evolution?