A-to-I RNA editing is particularly common in coding regions of squid mRNAs. Previously, we isolated a squid editing enzyme (sqADAR2) that shows a unique structural feature when compared with other ADAR2 family members: an additional double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) binding domain (dsRBD). Alternative splicing includes or excludes this motif, generating a novel or a conventional variant termed sqADAR2a and sqADAR2b, respectively. The extra dsRBD of sqADAR2a increases its editing activity in vitro. We hypothesized that the high activity is due to an increase in the affinity of the enzyme for dsRNA. This may be important because protein-RNA interactions can be influenced by physical factors. We became particularly interested in analyzing the effects of salt on interactions between sqADAR2 and RNA because squid cells have a ?3-fold higher ionic strength and proportionally more Cl(-) than vertebrate cells. To date, in vitro biochemical analyses of adenosine deamination have been conducted using vertebrate-like ionic strength buffers containing chloride as the major anion, although the vast majority of cellular anions are known to be organic. We found that squid-like salt conditions severely impair the binding affinity of conventional ADAR2s for dsRNA, leading to a decrease in nonspecific and site-specific editing activity. Inhibition of editing was mostly due to high Cl(-) levels and not to the high concentrations of K(+), Na(+), and organic anions like glutamate. Interestingly, the extra dsRBD in sqADAR2a conferred resistance to the high Cl(-) levels found in squid neurons. It does so by increasing the affinity of sqADAR2 for dsRNA by 30- or 100-fold in vertebrate-like or squid-like conditions, respectively. Site-directed mutagenesis of squid ADAR2a showed that its increased affinity and editing activity are directly attributable to the RNA binding activity of the extra dsRBD.