Researchers from the Marine biological laboratory of the University of Chicago for the first time successfully edited genes cephalopod mollusk.

For more than a century squid species Doryteuthis pealeii are for scientists a valuable model for genetic experiments. The work of Alan Hodgkin and Andrew Huxley with these cephalopods, was awarded the Nobel prize in 1940-ies and 50-ies led to the fundamental discovery in the field of neurobiology. Other unique abilities of the squid, allowing them to blend with the environment, opens exciting prospects for creating camouflage of the future generation.

In a new study published in the journal Current Biology, the researchers describe the first successful experience in the editing of genes Doryteuthis pealeii. To explore the efficiency of CRISPR techniques in this organism, scientists blocked the single gene responsible for the pigmentation of animals.

The successful results showed that the genetically modified individuals have lost up to 90% of the pigment in the skin cells. The degree of reduction of pigmentation in the final samples was directly related to the timing of the use of CRISPR during embryo development. Them at different times, were injected CRISPR-Cas9 before the first cell division, leading to the emergence of a “mosaic” embryos with various degrees of bleaching.

“Honestly, if you’d asked me five years ago whether we will be able to do it, I would have just chuckled and said, “I dream about it.” I could not believe that this is possible actually – and yet the result is obvious,” – said Carrie Albertin, one of the researchers, in an interview with NPR.

Along with the fact that researchers first proved the effectiveness of the editing process CRISPR genes from cephalopods, they also demonstrated several innovative methods of delivery of the CRISPR system in the embryo of the squid. Tough outer cover layer of the embryo require special micronomic to penetrate into the internal environment and beveled quartz needle for fine manipulation.

“the Ability to turn off genes live squid will allow us to find answers to a number of issues: how the brain cephalopod mollusk encodes complex behavioral patterns in comparison with the brain of vertebrates? How to create camouflage and how it is controlled by the brain?” the scientists write in the conclusion to his recently published study.