The isolation of viable extremely halophilic archaea from 250-million-year-old rock salt suggests the possibility of their long-term survival under desiccation. Since halite has been found on Mars and in meteorites, haloarchaeal survival of martian surface conditions is being explored. Halococcus dombrowskii H4 DSM 14522T was exposed to UV doses over a wavelength range of 200–400 nm to simulate martian UV flux. Cells embedded in a thin layer of laboratory-grown halite were found to accumulate preferentially within fluid inclusions. Survival was assessed by staining with the LIVE/DEAD kit dyes, determining colony-forming units, and using growth tests. Halite-embedded cells showed no loss of viability after exposure to about 21 kJ/m2, and they resumed growth in liquid medium with lag phases of 12 days or more after exposure up to 148 kJ/m2. The estimated D37 (dose of 37 % survival) for Hcc. dombrowskii was ≥ 400 kJ/m2. However, exposure of cells to UV flux while in liquid culture reduced D37 by 2 orders of magnitude (to about 1 kJ/m2); similar results were obtained with Halobacterium salinarum NRC-1 and Haloarcula japonica. The absorption of incoming light of shorter wavelength by color centers resulting from defects in the halite crystal structure likely contributed to these results. Under natural conditions, haloarchaeal cells become embedded in salt upon evaporation; therefore, dispersal of potential microscopic life within small crystals, perhaps in dust, on the surface of Mars could resist damage by UV radiation.
Halococcus dombrowskii; Simulated martian UV radiation; LIVE/DEAD staining; Halite fluid inclusions; UV transmittance and reflectance; Desiccation
The recent engagement of Brazil in the construction and utilization of the International Space Station has motivated several Brazilian research institutions and universities to establish study centers related to Space Sciences. The Pontificia Universidade Catolica do Rio Grande do Sul (PUCRS) is no exception.
Method: The University initiated in 1993 the first degree course training students to operate commercial aircraft in South America (the School of Aeronautical Sciences. A further step was the decision to build the first Brazilian laboratory dedicated to the conduct of experiments in ground-based microgravity simulation. Established in 1998, the Microgravity Laboratory, which was located in the Instituto de Pesquisas Cientificas e Tecnologicas (IPCT), was supported by the Schools of Medicine, Aeronautical Sciences and Electrical Engineering/Biomedical Engineering. At the end of 2006, the Microgravity Laboratory became a Center and was transferred to the School of Engineering.
Results: The principal activities of the Microgravity Centre are the development of research projects related to human physiology before, during and after ground-based microgravity simulation and parabolic flights, to aviation medicine in the 21st century and to aerospace biomedical engineering.
Conclusion: The history of Brazilian, and why not say worldwide, space science should unquestionably go through PUCRS. As time passes, the pioneering spirit of our University in the aerospace area has become undeniable. This is due to the group of professionals, students, technicians and staff in general that have once worked or are still working in the Center of Microgravity, a group of faculty and students that excel in their undeniable technical-scientific qualifications.
Microgravity; space life sciences; research center; space biomedicine
The immune responses of human lymphoid tissue explants or cells isolated from this tissue were studied quantitatively under normal gravity and microgravity. Microgravity was either modeled by solid body suspension in a rotating, oxygenated culture vessel or was actually achieved on the International Space Station (ISS). Our experiments demonstrate that tissues or cells challenged by recall antigen or by polyclonal activator in modeled microgravity lose all their ability to produce antibodies and cytokines and to increase their metabolic activity. In contrast, if the cells were challenged before being exposed to modeled microgravity suspension culture, they maintained their responses. Similarly, in microgravity in the ISS, lymphoid cells did not respond to antigenic or polyclonal challenge, whereas cells challenged prior to the space flight maintained their antibody and cytokine responses in space. Thus, immune activation of cells of lymphoid tissue is severely blunted both in modeled and true microgravity. This suggests that suspension culture via solid body rotation is sufficient to induce the changes in cellular physiology seen in true microgravity. This phenomenon may reflect immune dysfunction observed in astronauts during space flights. If so, the ex vivo system described above can be used to understand cellular and molecular mechanisms of this dysfunction.
Immune response; Space flight; Microgravity
Life on Earth evolved in the presence of gravity, and thus it is of interest from the perspective of space exploration to determine if diminished gravity affects biological processes. Cultivation of Escherichia coli under low-shear simulated microgravity (SMG) conditions resulted in enhanced stress resistance in both exponential- and stationary-phase cells, making the latter superresistant. Given that microgravity of space and SMG also compromise human immune response, this phenomenon constitutes a potential threat to astronauts. As low-shear environments are encountered by pathogens on Earth as well, SMG-conferred resistance is also relevant to controlling infectious disease on this planet. The SMG effect resembles the general stress response on Earth, which makes bacteria resistant to multiple stresses; this response is σs dependent, irrespective of the growth phase. However, SMG-induced increased resistance was dependent on σs only in stationary phase, being independent of this sigma factor in exponential phase. σs concentration was some 30% lower in exponential-phase SMG cells than in normal gravity cells but was twofold higher in stationary-phase SMG cells. While SMG affected σs synthesis at all levels of control, the main reasons for the differential effect of this gravity condition on σs levels were that it rendered the sigma protein less stable in exponential phase and increased rpoS mRNA translational efficiency. Since σs regulatory processes are influenced by mRNA and protein-folding patterns, the data suggest that SMG may affect these configurations.
To investigate the morphological and growth characteristics of rabbit keratocytes when cultured on decellularized cornea under simulate microgravity (SMG) rotary cell culture system (RCCS) and static culture or in plastic culture supplemented with small molecules of valproic acid (VPA) and vitamin C (VC). Bovine corneas were firstly decellularized with Triton X-100 and NH4OH and through short-term freezing process. Then cell count kit-8 (CCK-8) and flow cytometry were used to test the effects of VPA and VC on the proliferation, cell cycle and apoptosis of rabbit keratocytes. Hematoxylin-eosin (H&E) staining and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) imaging showed that cells were eliminated in the decellularized bovine corneas. The proliferation of cultured keratocytes was promoted by VPA and VC in the cell proliferation assay. VPA and VC moderately decreased the number of apoptotic cells and obviously promoted cell-cycle entrance of keratocytes. Rabbit keratocytes in plastic displayed spindle shape and rare interconnected with or without VPA and VC. Cells revealed dendritic morphology and reticular cellular connections when cultured on the carriers of decellularized corneas supplemented with VPA and VC even in the presence of 10% fetal bovine serum (FBS). When cultured in RCCS supplemented with VPA, VC and 10% FBS, keratocytes displayed round shape with many prominences and were more prone to grow into the pores of carriers with aggregation. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) analysis proved that the keratocytes cultured on decellularized bovine cornea under SMG with VPA and VC expressed keratocan and lumican. Keratocytes cultured on plastic expressed lumican but not keratocan. Immunofluorescence identification revealed that cells in all groups were positively immunostained for vimentin. Keratocytes on decellularized bovine cornea under SMG or in static culture were positively immunostained for keratocan and lumican. Thus, we reasonably made a conclusion that the combination of VPA, VC, RCCS and decellularized corneal carriers provide a good condition for keratocytes to well grow. Keratocytes can be manipulated to be aggregates or physiological morphological growth in vitro, which are important for the research of corneal stem cells and corneal tissue engineering.
In the present study, we discovered that mouse oocyte maturation was inhibited by simulated microgravity via disturbing spindle organization. We cultured mouse oocytes under microgravity condition simulated by NASA's rotary cell culture system, examined the maturation rate and observed the spindle morphology (organization of cytoskeleton) during the mouse oocytes meiotic maturation. While the rate of germinal vesicle breakdown did not differ between 1 g gravity and simulated microgravity, rate of oocyte maturation decreased significantly in simulated microgravity. The rate of maturation was 8.94% in simulated microgravity and was 73.0% in 1 g gravity. The results show that the maturation of mouse oocytes in vitro was inhibited by the simulated microgravity. The spindle morphology observation shows that the microtubules and chromosomes can not form a complete spindle during oocyte meiotic maturation under simulated microgravity. And the disorder of γ-tubulin may partially result in disorganization of microtubules under simulated microgravity. These observations suggest that the meiotic spindle organization is gravity dependent. Although the spindle organization was disrupted by simulated microgravity, the function and organization of microfilaments were not pronouncedly affected by simulated microgravity. And we found that simulated microgravity induced oocytes cytoplasmic blebbing via an unknown mechanism. Transmission electron microscope detection showed that the components of the blebs were identified with the cytoplasm. Collectively, these results indicated that the simulated microgravity inhibits mouse oocyte maturation via disturbing spindle organization and inducing cytoplasmic blebbing.
Previous experiments have shown that the reduced gravity aboard the International Space Station (ISS) causes important alterations in Drosophila gene expression. These changes were shown to be intimately linked to environmental space-flight related constraints.
Here, we use an array of different techniques for ground-based simulation of microgravity effects to assess the effect of suboptimal environmental conditions on the gene expression of Drosophila in reduced gravity. A global and integrative analysis, using “gene expression dynamics inspector” (GEDI) self-organizing maps, reveals different degrees in the responses of the transcriptome when using different environmental conditions or microgravity/hypergravity simulation devices. Although the genes that are affected are different in each simulation technique, we find that the same gene ontology groups, including at least one large multigene family related with behavior, stress response or organogenesis, are over represented in each case.
These results suggest that the transcriptome as a whole can be finely tuned to gravity force. In optimum environmental conditions, the alteration of gravity has only mild effects on gene expression but when environmental conditions are far from optimal, the gene expression must be tuned greatly and effects become more robust, probably linked to the lack of experience of organisms exposed to evolutionary novel environments such as a gravitational free one.
Evolutionary genomics; Gene family evolution; Microgravity-hypergravity; Magnetic levitation; Gene expression; Microarray
The nitrogen cycle (N-cycle), principally supported by prokaryotes, involves different redox reactions mainly focused on assimilatory purposes or respiratory processes for energy conservation. As the N-cycle has important environmental implications, this biogeochemical cycle has become a major research topic during the last few years. However, although N-cycle metabolic pathways have been studied extensively in Bacteria or Eukarya, relatively little is known in the Archaea. Halophilic Archaea are the predominant microorganisms in hot and hypersaline environments such as salted lakes, hot springs or salted ponds. Consequently, the denitrifying haloarchaea that sustain the nitrogen cycle under these conditions have emerged as an important target for research aimed at understanding microbial life in these extreme environments.
The haloarchaeon Haloferax mediterranei was isolated 20 years ago from Santa Pola salted ponds (Alicante, Spain). It was described as a denitrifier and it is also able to grow using NO3-, NO2- or NH4+ as inorganic nitrogen sources. This review summarizes the advances that have been made in understanding the N-cycle in halophilic archaea using Hfx mediterranei as a haloarchaeal model. The results obtained show that this microorganism could be very attractive for bioremediation applications in those areas where high salt, nitrate and nitrite concentrations are found in ground waters and soils.
Exposure to altered microgravity during space travel induces changes in the brain and these are reflected in many of the physical behavior seen in the astronauts. The vulnerability of the brain to microgravity stress has been reviewed and reported. Identifying microgravity-induced changes in the brain proteome may aid in understanding the impact of the microgravity environment on brain function. In our previous study we have reported changes in specific proteins under simulated microgravity in the hippocampus using proteomics approach. In the present study the profiling of the hypothalamus region in the brain was studied as a step towards exploring the effect of microgravity in this region of the brain. Hypothalamus is the critical region in the brain that strictly controls the pituitary gland that in turn is responsible for the secretion of important hormones. Here we report a 2-dimensional gel electrophoretic analysis of the mouse hypothalamus in response to simulated microgravity. Lowered glutathione and differences in abundance expression of seven proteins were detected in the hypothalamus of mice exposed to microgravity. These changes included decreased superoxide dismutase-2 (SOD-2) and increased malate dehydrogenase and peroxiredoxin-6, reflecting reduction of the antioxidant system in the hypothalamus. Taken together the results reported here indicate that oxidative imbalance occurred in the hypothalamus in response to simulated microgravity.
Brain; Hypothalamus; Microgravity
Manned space exploration has created a need to evaluate the effects of space-like stress (SLS) on pathogenic and opportunistic microbes. Interestingly, several Gram-negative enteric pathogens, e.g., Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium, have revealed a transient hyper-virulent phenotype following simulated microgravity (SMG) or actual space flight exposures. We have explored the virulence potential of Yersinia pestis KIM/D27 (YP) following exposure to mechanical low shear forces associated with SMG. Our experimental results demonstrated that SMG-grown YP was decreased in its induced HeLa cell cytotoxicity, suggesting that SMG somehow compromises T3SS functions. This was confirmed by an actual reduced amount of effector protein production and secretion through the T3SS injectisome. Also, SMG-grown YP proliferated less than their NG-grown counterparts did during an 8-h macrophage infection. Presently, we are evaluating the influence of SMG on various KIM/D27 mutant strains to further understanding of our initial phenomenology described above. Taken together, characterizing YP grown under the low shear forces of SMG can provide new insights into its pathogenesis and potentially uncover new targets that could be exploited for the development of novel antimicrobials as well as potential live-attenuated vaccines.
simulated microgravity; Yersinia pestis; type three secretion system; high aspect ratio vessel; low shear forces
Adult stem cells can differentiate into multiple lineages depending on their exposure to differing biochemical and biomechanical inductive factors. Lack of mechanical signals due to disuse can inhibit osteogenesis and induce adipogenesis of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). Long-term bed rest due to both brain/spinal cord injury and space travel can lead to disuse osteoporosis that is in part caused by a reduced number of osteoblasts. Thus, it is essential to provide proper mechanical stimulation for cellular viability and osteogenesis, particularly under disuse conditions. The objective of this study was to examine the effects of low intensity pulsed ultrasound (LIPUS) on the osteogenic differentiation of adipose-derived human stem cells (Ad-hMSC) in simulated microgravity conditions. Cells were cultured in a 1D clinostat to simulate microgravity (SMG) and treated with LIPUS at 30mW/cm2 for 20 min/day. It was hypothesized that the application of LIPUS to SMG cultures would restore osteogenesis in Ad-hMSCs. The results showed significant increases in ALP, OSX, RANKL, RUNX2, and decreases in OPG in LIPUS treated SMG cultures of Ad-MSC compared to non-treated cultures. LIPUS also restored OSX, RUNX2 and RANKL expression in osteoblast cells. SMG significantly reduced ALP positive cells by 70% (p<0.01) and ALP activity by 22% (p<0.01), while LIPUS treatment restored ALP positive cell number and activity to equivalence with normal gravity controls. Extracellular matrix collagen and mineralization was assessed by Sirius red and Alizarin red staining, respectively. SMG cultures showed little or no collagen or mineralization, but LIPUS treatment restored collagen content to 50% (p<0.001) and mineralization by 45% (p<0.001) in LIPUS treated-SMG cultures relative to SMG-only cultures. The data suggest that LIPUS treatment can restore normal osteogenic differentiation of MSCs from disuse by daily short duration stimulation.
The attenuation of sedimentation and convection in microgravity can sometimes decrease irregularities formed during macromolecular crystal growth. Current terrestrial protein crystal growth (PCG) capabilities are very different than those used during the Shuttle era and that are currently on the International Space Station (ISS). The focus of this experiment was to demonstrate the use of a commercial off-the-shelf, high throughput, PCG method in microgravity. Using Protein BioSolutions’ microfluidic Plug Maker™/CrystalCard™ system, we tested the ability to grow crystals of the regulator of glucose metabolism and adipogenesis: peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (apo-hPPAR-γ LBD), as well as several PCG standards. Overall, we sent 25 CrystalCards™ to the ISS, containing ~10,000 individual microgravity PCG experiments in a 3U NanoRacks NanoLab (1U = 103 cm.). After 70 days on the ISS, our samples were returned with 16 of 25 (64%) microgravity cards having crystals, compared to 12 of 25 (48%) of the ground controls. Encouragingly, there were more apo-hPPAR-γ LBD crystals in the microgravity PCG cards than the 1g controls. These positive results hope to introduce the use of the PCG standard of low sample volume and large experimental density to the microgravity environment and provide new opportunities for macromolecular samples that may crystallize poorly in standard laboratories.
The first International Caenorhabditis elegans Experiment (ICE-First) was carried out using a Russian Soyuz spacecraft from April 19-30, 2004. This experiment was a part of the program of the DELTA (Dutch Expedition for Life science Technology and Atmospheric research) mission, and the space agencies that participate in the International Space Station (ISS) program formed international research teams. A Japanese research team that conducted by Japan aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) investigated the following aspects of the organism: (1) whether meiotic chromosomal dynamics and apoptosis in the germ cells were normal under microgravity conditions, (2) the effect of the space flight on muscle cell development, and (3) the effect of the space flight on protein aggregation. In this article, we summarize the results of these biochemical and molecular biological analyses.
The microgravity environment during space flight imposes numerous adverse effects on animal and microbial physiology. It is unclear, however, how microgravity impacts those cellular interactions between mutualistic microbes and their hosts. Here, we used the symbiosis between the host squid Euprymna scolopes and its luminescent bacterium Vibrio fischeri as a model system. We examined the impact of simulated microgravity on the timeline of bacteria-induced development in the host light organ, the site of the symbiosis. To simulate the microgravity environment, host squid and symbiosis-competent bacteria were incubated together in high-aspect ratio rotating wall vessel bioreactors and examined throughout the early stages of the bacteria-induced morphogenesis. The host innate immune response was suppressed under simulated microgravity; however, there was an acceleration of bacteria-induced apoptosis and regression in the host tissues. These results suggest that the space flight environment may alter the cellular interactions between animal hosts and their natural healthy microbiome.
Cell growth and cell proliferation are intimately linked in the presence of Earth’s gravity, but are decoupled under the microgravity conditions present in orbiting spacecraft. New technologies to simulate microgravity conditions for long-duration experiments, with stable environmental conditions, in Earth-based laboratories are required to further our understanding of the effect of extraterrestrial conditions on the growth, development and health of living matter.
We studied the response of transgenic seedlings of Arabidopsis thaliana, containing either the CycB1-GUS proliferation marker or the DR5-GUS auxin-mediated growth marker, to diamagnetic levitation in the bore of a superconducting solenoid magnet. As a control, a second set of seedlings were exposed to a strong magnetic field, but not to levitation forces. A third set was exposed to a strong field and simulated hypergravity (2 g). Cell proliferation and cell growth cytological parameters were measured for each set of seedlings. Nucleolin immunodetection was used as a marker of cell growth. Collectively, the data indicate that these two fundamental cellular processes are decoupled in root meristems, as in microgravity: cell proliferation was enhanced whereas cell growth markers were depleted. These results also demonstrated delocalisation of auxin signalling in the root tip despite the fact that levitation of the seedling as a whole does not prevent the sedimentation of statoliths in the root cells.
In our model system, we found that diamagnetic levitation led to changes that are very similar to those caused by real- [e.g. on board the International Space Station (ISS)] or mechanically-simulated microgravity [e.g. using a Random Positioning Machine (RPM)]. These changes decoupled meristematic cell proliferation from ribosome biogenesis, and altered auxin polar transport.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s ‘high-quality protein crystal growth’ project is introduced. If crystallization conditions were carefully fixed in ground-based experiments, high-quality protein crystals grew in microgravity in many experiments on the International Space Station, especially when a highly homogeneous protein sample and a viscous crystallization solution were employed.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) started a high-quality protein crystal growth project, now called JAXA PCG, on the International Space Station (ISS) in 2002. Using the counter-diffusion technique, 14 sessions of experiments have been performed as of 2012 with 580 proteins crystallized in total. Over the course of these experiments, a user-friendly interface framework for high accessibility has been constructed and crystallization techniques improved; devices to maximize the use of the microgravity environment have been designed, resulting in some high-resolution crystal growth. If crystallization conditions were carefully fixed in ground-based experiments, high-quality protein crystals grew in microgravity in many experiments on the ISS, especially when a highly homogeneous protein sample and a viscous crystallization solution were employed. In this article, the current status of JAXA PCG is discussed, and a rational approach to high-quality protein crystal growth in microgravity based on numerical analyses is explained.
microgravity; protein crystal; JAXA; counter-diffusion; Japan Experiment Module ‘Kibo’; protein depletion zone; impurity depletion zone
The skin is susceptible to different injuries and diseases. One major obstacle in skin tissue engineering is how to develop functional three-dimensional (3D) substitute for damaged skin. Previous studies have proved a 3D dynamic simulated microgravity (SMG) culture system as a “stimulatory” environment for the proliferation and differentiation of stem cells. Here, we employed the NASA-approved rotary bioreactor to investigate the proliferation and differentiation of human epidermal stem cells (hEpSCs). hEpSCs were isolated from children foreskins and enriched by collecting epidermal stem cell colonies. Cytodex-3 micro-carriers and hEpSCs were co-cultured in the rotary bioreactor and 6-well dish for 15 days. The result showed that hEpSCs cultured in rotary bioreactor exhibited enhanced proliferation and viability surpassing those cultured in static conditions. Additionally, immunostaining analysis confirmed higher percentage of ki67 positive cells in rotary bioreactor compared with the static culture. In contrast, comparing with static culture, cells in the rotary bioreactor displayed a low expression of involucrin at day 10. Histological analysis revealed that cells cultured in rotary bioreactor aggregated on the micro-carriers and formed multilayer 3D epidermis structures. In conclusion, our research suggests that NASA-approved rotary bioreactor can support the proliferation of hEpSCs and provide a strategy to form multilayer epidermis structure.
Summary: The responses of microorganisms (viruses, bacterial cells, bacterial and fungal spores, and lichens) to selected factors of space (microgravity, galactic cosmic radiation, solar UV radiation, and space vacuum) were determined in space and laboratory simulation experiments. In general, microorganisms tend to thrive in the space flight environment in terms of enhanced growth parameters and a demonstrated ability to proliferate in the presence of normally inhibitory levels of antibiotics. The mechanisms responsible for the observed biological responses, however, are not yet fully understood. A hypothesized interaction of microgravity with radiation-induced DNA repair processes was experimentally refuted. The survival of microorganisms in outer space was investigated to tackle questions on the upper boundary of the biosphere and on the likelihood of interplanetary transport of microorganisms. It was found that extraterrestrial solar UV radiation was the most deleterious factor of space. Among all organisms tested, only lichens (Rhizocarpon geographicum and Xanthoria elegans) maintained full viability after 2 weeks in outer space, whereas all other test systems were inactivated by orders of magnitude. Using optical filters and spores of Bacillus subtilis as a biological UV dosimeter, it was found that the current ozone layer reduces the biological effectiveness of solar UV by 3 orders of magnitude. If shielded against solar UV, spores of B. subtilis were capable of surviving in space for up to 6 years, especially if embedded in clay or meteorite powder (artificial meteorites). The data support the likelihood of interplanetary transfer of microorganisms within meteorites, the so-called lithopanspermia hypothesis.
One of the objectives of the current international space programmes is to investigate the possible effects of the space environment on the crew health. The aim of this work was to assess the particular effects of simulated microgravity on mature primary neuronal networks and specially their plasticity and connectivity. For this purpose, primary mouse neurons were first grown for 10 days as a dense network before being placed in the Random Positioning Machine (RPM), simulating microgravity. These cultures were then used to investigate the impact of short- (1 h), middle- (24 h) and long-term (10 days) exposure to microgravity at the level of neurite network density, cell morphology and motility as well as cytoskeleton properties in established two-dimensional mature neuronal networks. Image processing analysis of dense neuronal networks exposed to simulated microgravity and their subsequent recovery under ground conditions revealed different neuronal responses depending on the duration period of exposure. After short- and middle-term exposures to simulated microgravity, changes in neurite network, neuron morphology and viability were observed with significant alterations followed by fast recovery processes. Long exposure to simulated microgravity revealed a high adaptation of single neurons to the new gravity conditions as well as a partial adaptation of neuronal networks. This latter was concomitant to an increase of apoptosis. However, neurons and neuronal networks exposed for long-term to simulated microgravity required longer recovery time to re-adapt to the ground gravity. In conclusion, a clear modulation in neuronal plasticity was evidenced through morphological and physiological changes in primary neuronal cultures during and after simulated microgravity exposure. These changes were dependent on the duration of exposure to microgravity.
It is generally known that bone loss is one of the most important complications for astronauts who are exposed to long-term microgravity in space. Changes in blood flow, systemic hormones, and locally produced factors were indicated as important elements contributing to the response of osteoblastic cells to loading, but research in this field still has many questions. Here, the possible biological involvement of thyroid C cells is being investigated. The paper is a comparison between a case of a wild type single mouse and a over-expressing pleiotrophin single mouse exposed to hypogravity conditions during the first animal experiment of long stay in International Space Station (91 days) and three similar mice exposed to hypergravity (2Gs) conditions. We provide evidence that both microgravity and hypergravity induce similar loss of C cells with reduction of calcitonin production. Pleiotrophin over-expression result in some protection against negative effects of gravity change. Potential implication of the gravity mechanic forces in the regulation of bone homeostasis via thyroid equilibrium is discussed.
Sustaining life beyond Earth either on space stations or on other planets will require a clear understanding of how the space environment affects key phases of mammalian reproduction. However, because of the difficulty of doing such experiments in mammals, most studies of reproduction in space have been carried out with other taxa, such as sea urchins, fish, amphibians or birds. Here, we studied the possibility of mammalian fertilization and preimplantation development under microgravity (µG) conditions using a three-dimensional (3D) clinostat, which faithfully simulates 10–3 G using 3D rotation. Fertilization occurred normally in vitro under µG. However, although we obtained 75 healthy offspring from µG-fertilized and -cultured embryos after transfer to recipient females, the birth rate was lower than among the 1G controls. Immunostaining demonstrated that in vitro culture under µG caused slower development and fewer trophectoderm cells than in 1G controls but did not affect polarization of the blastocyst. These results suggest for the first time that fertilization can occur normally under µG environment in a mammal, but normal preimplantation embryo development might require 1G.
Space travel induces many deleterious effects on the flight crew due to the ‘0’ g environment. The brain experiences a tremendous fluid shift, which is responsible for many of the detrimental changes in physical behavior seen in astronauts. It therefore indicates that the brain may undergo major changes in its protein levels in a ‘0’ g environment to counteract the stress. Analysis of these global changes in proteins may explain to better understand the functioning of brain in a ‘0’ g condition. Toward such an effort, we have screened proteins in the hippocampus of mice kept in simulated microgravity environment for 7 days and have observed a few changes in major proteins as compared to control mice. Essentially, the results show a major loss of proteins in the hippocampus of mice subjected to simulated microgravity. These changes occur in structural proteins such as tubulin, coupled with the loss of proteins involved in metabolism. This preliminary investigation leads to an understanding of the alteration of proteins in the hippocampus in response to the microgravity environment.
microgravity; hippocampus; two-dimensional gel electrophoresis
The adaptive immune system comprising CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) arrays and cas (CRISPR-associated) genes has been discovered in a wide range of bacteria and archaea and has recently attracted comprehensive investigations. However, the subtype I-B CRISPR-Cas system in haloarchaea has been less characterized. Here, we investigated Cas6-mediated RNA processing in Haloferax mediterranei. The Cas6 cleavage site, as well as the CRISPR transcription start site, was experimentally determined, and processing of CRISPR transcripts was detected with a progressively increasing pattern from early log to stationary phase. With genetic approaches, we discovered that the lack of Cas1, Cas3, or Cas4 unexpectedly resulted in a decrease of CRISPR transcripts, while Cas5, Cas6, and Cas7 were found to be essential in stabilizing mature CRISPR RNA (crRNA). Intriguingly, we observed a CRISPR- and Cas3-independent inhibition of a defective provirus, in which the putative Cascade (CRISPR-associated complex for antiviral defense) proteins (Cas5, Cas6, Cas7, and Cas8b) were indispensably required. A sequence carried by a proviral transcript was found to be homologous to the CRISPR repeat RNA and vulnerable to Cas6-mediated cleavage, implying a distinct interference mechanism that may account for this unusual inhibition. These results provide fundamental information for the subtype I-B CRISPR-Cas system in halophilic archaea and suggest diversified mechanisms and multiple physiological functions for the CRISPR-Cas system.
There have been many studies on the biological effects of simulated microgravity (SMG) on differentiated cells or adult stem cells. However, there has been no systematic study on the effects of SMG on embryonic stem (ES) cells. In this study, we investigated various effects (including cell proliferation, cell cycle distribution, cell differentiation, cell adhesion, apoptosis, genomic integrity and DNA damage repair) of SMG on mouse embryonic stem (mES) cells. Mouse ES cells cultured under SMG condition had a significantly reduced total cell number compared with cells cultured under 1 g gravity (1G) condition. However, there was no significant difference in cell cycle distribution between SMG and 1G culture conditions, indicating that cell proliferation was not impaired significantly by SMG and was not a major factor contributing to the total cell number reduction. In contrast, a lower adhesion rate cultured under SMG condition contributed to the lower cell number in SMG. Our results also revealed that SMG alone could not induce DNA damage in mES cells while it could affect the repair of radiation-induced DNA lesions of mES cells. Taken together, mES cells were sensitive to SMG and the major alterations in cellular events were cell number expansion, adhesion rate decrease, increased apoptosis and delayed DNA repair progression, which are distinct from the responses of other types of cells to SMG.
The in vitro culture of pancreatic islets reduces their immunogenicity and prolongs their availability for transplantation. Both simulated microgravity (sMG) and a polyglycolic acid scaffold (PGA) are believed to confer advantages to cell culture. Here, we evaluated the effects of sMG combined with a PGA on the viability, insulin-producing activity and morphological alterations of pancreatic islets. Under PGA-sMG conditions, the purity of the islets was ≥85%, and the islets had a higher survival rate and an increased ability to secrete insulin compared with islets cultured alone in the static, sMG, or PGA conditions. In addition, morphological analysis under scanning electron microscopy (SEM) revealed that the PGA-sMG treatment preserved the integral structure of the islets and facilitated islet adhesion to the scaffolds. These results suggest that PGA-sMG coculture has the potential to improve the viability and function of islets in vitro and provides a promising method for islet transplantation.