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First Gene Knockout in a Cephalopod is Achieved at Marine Biological Laboratory by Professor Karen Crawford and Team

St. Mary’s College of Maryland Professor of Biology Karen Crawford, who was the Whitman Scientist this summer on a team at Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, is first author of a milestone study reported in the July 30 issue of Current Biology. The team at MBL, led by MBL Senior Scientist Joshua Rosenthal and Crawford, has achieved the first gene knockout in a cephalopod using the squid Doryteuthis pealeii, an exceptionally important research organism in biology for nearly a century. The team used CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing to knock out a pigmentation gene in squid embryos, which eliminated pigmentation in the eye and in skin cells (chromatophores) with high efficiency. “This is a critical first step toward the ability to knock out — and knock in — genes in cephalopods to address a host of biological questions,” Rosenthal says. Cephalopods (squid, octopus and cuttlefish) have the largest brain of all invertebrates, a distributed nervous system capable of instantaneous camouflage and sophisticated behaviors, a unique body plan, and the ability to extensively recode their own genetic information within messenger RNA, along with other distinctive features. These open many avenues for study and have applications in a wide range of fields, from […]

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