UCI engineers reveal molecular secrets of cephalopod powers

Irvine, Calif., Dec. 17, 2020 — Reflectins, the unique structural proteins that give squids and octopuses the ability to change colors and blend in with their surroundings, are thought to have great potential for innovations in areas as diverse as electronics, optics and medicine. Scientists and inventors have been stymied in their attempts to fully utilize the powers of these biomolecules due to their atypical chemical composition and high sensitivity to subtle environmental changes.

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An Unprecedented Discovery of Cell Fusion

Understanding how bacteria interact is critical to solving growing problems such as antibiotic resistance, in which infectious bacteria form defenses to thwart the medicines used to fight them. Researchers at the University of Delaware have discovered that bacterial cells from different species can combine into unique hybrid cells by fusing their cell walls and membranes and sharing cellular contents, including proteins and ribonucleic acid (RNA), the molecules which regulate gene expression and control cell metabolism.

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Technique Can Label Many Specific DNAs, RNAs, or Proteins in a Single Tissue Sample

A new technique can label diverse molecules and amplify the signal to help researchers spot those that are especially rare. Called SABER (signal amplification by exchange reaction), Peng Yin’s lab at Harvard’s Wyss Institute first introduced this method last year and since have found ways to apply it to proteins, DNA and RNA.

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