Cephalopods (like octopus and squid) can make edits to a large portion of their RNA (which is used to make proteins), allowing their cells to react to situations without changing their DNA. By using this mechanism, they can try out proteins with different functions without needing to wait for evolution to take place. However, the RNA-editing mechanism is so useful that their DNA evolves slower, as any changes that might affect the RNA-editing would be a disadvantage.
Researchers think that RNA-editing not only gives cephalopods the ability of living in a wider range of temperatures, but also enables them to have a large and complex nervous system that allows them to learn and remember. More than 60% of the RNA in squid brains are edited, compared to less than 1% of that in humans. Maybe octopus and squid will be quicker to adapt to the rapid climate change and take over the world?


Further reading:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4219319/
http://www.cell.com/cell/fulltext/S0092-8674(17)30344-6

Posted by:bojushih

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