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Squid transparent. This is the creation of scientists at the Marine Biology Laboratory (MBL), quiens for the first time have succeeded in the elimination of genes in a cephalopod, which can lead to applications not only in biology, but also in robotics or in artificial intelligence. The team, who recently published their findings in “Current Biology”, used the tool of genome editing CRISPR-Cas9 to suppress a gene of pigmentation in embryos of the squid, which removed the pigmentation in the eyes and in the skin cells (chromatophores) with high efficiency.

“This is a critical first step toward the ability to remove and delete genes in the cephalopod to address a series of biological questions,” he says in a press release Joshua Rosenthal , principal scientist in the MBL and lead author of the work.

Methods trabajoKaren Crawford

cephalopods (squid, octopus and cuttlefish) have the bigger brain of all the invertebrates, a nervous system extended able to cause a camouflage instant and the ability to recode widely its own genetic information into the messenger RNA. These animals open up many avenues for the study and have applications in a wide range of fields, from evolution and development, to medicine, robotics, materials science, and artificial intelligence.

The ability to delete a gene to test its function is an important step in the development of the cephalopods as genetically treatable for biological research, increasing the number of species that currently dominate the genetic studies, such as the fruit flies, zebrafish and mice . It is also a necessary step to have the ability to produce genes that facilitate research, such as those encoding fluorescent proteins that can form imaging to track neural activity, or other dynamic processes.

“CRISPR-Cas9 worked very well in the Doryteuthis ; it was remarkably efficient,” says Rosenthal. Much more challenging was to deliver the system CRISPR-Cas in the embryo of the squid cell, which is surrounded by an outer layer that is extremely resistant, and after raising the embryo through to hatching. The team developed a micro-scissors to cut the surface of the egg and a needle of quartz beveled to then use the reagents CRISPR-Cas9.

Ring fry squid in mosaic (Doryteuthis pealeii) . These embryos were injected with CRISPR-Cas9 in different times before the first cell division, resulting in embryos in a mosaic with different degrees of deactivation – Karen CrawfordUn animal Nobel

studies with Doryteuthis pealeii have led to fundamental advances in neurobiology, beginning with the description of the action potential (nerve impulse) in the 1950s, a discovery by which Alan Hodgkin and Andrew Huxle and became awarded with the Nobel Prize in 1963.

Doryteuthis pealeii , often called squid at Woods Hole. Studies with D. pealeii have led to important advances in neurobiology, including the description of the fundamental mechanisms of neurotransmission. The Marine Biology Laboratory collects D. pealeii in waters local to an international community of researchers. – Roger Hanlon

Recently, Rosenthal and his colleagues discovered a wide recoding of Mrna in the nervous system of Doryteuthis and other cephalopods. This research is in development for potential biomedical applications, such as the therapy of pain control.

however, D. pealeii is not an ideal species to develop as an organism of genetic research. It is large and occupies much space in the tank and, what is more important, no one has been able to be cultured through multiple generations in the laboratory. For these reasons, the next objective of the programme MBL Cephalopod is to transfer the new technology of removal of a species of cephalopod smaller, Euprymna berryi (the squid hummingbird), which is relatively easy to cultivate in order to produce genetic strains.

The Program of cephalopods of MBL is part of the Initiative of new agencies of research of MBL, which is expanding the palette of genetically tractable organisms available for research and, therefore, expanding the universe of biological questions that can be formulated.

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