INDIANAPOLIS, March 27, 2023 — Squids and octopuses are masters of camouflage, blending into their environment to evade predators or surprise prey. Some aspects of how these cephalopods become reversibly transparent are still “unclear,” largely because researchers can’t culture cephalopod skin cells in the lab. Today, however, researchers report that they have replicated the tunable transparency of some squid skin cells in mammalian cells, which can be cultured. The work could not only shed light on basic squid biology, but also lead to better ways to image many cell types.
The researchers will present their results at the spring meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS). ACS Spring 2023 is a hybrid meeting being held virtually and in-person March 26–30, and features more than 10,000 presentations on a wide range of science topics.
For many years, Alon Gorodetsky, Ph.D., and his research group have been working on materials inspired by squid. In past work, they developed “invisibility stickers,” which consisted of bacterially produced squid reflectin proteins that were adhered onto sticky tape. “So then, we had this crazy idea to see whether we could capture some aspect of the ability of squid skin tissues to change transparency within human cell cultures,” says Gorodetsky, who is the principal investigator on the project.