Gravity and positional homeostasis of the cell
Nace, G. W. (1983). "Gravity and positional homeostasis of the cell." Advances in Space Research 3 9: 159-68
Normally bilateralization takes place in the presence of the Earth's gravity which produces torque, shear, tension and compression acting upon the naked aggregates of cytoplasm in the zygote which is only stabilized by a weak cytoskeleton. In an initial examination of the effects of these quantities on development, an expression is derived to describe the tendency of torque to rotate the egg and reorganize its constituents. This expression yields the net torque resulting from buoyancy and gravity acting upon a dumbbell shaped cell with heavy and light masses at either end and "floating" in a medium. Using crude values for the variables, torques of 2.5 x l0(-13) to 8.5 x 10(-1) dyne-cm are found to act upon cells ranging from 6.4 micrometers to 31 mm (chicken egg). By way of camparison six microtubules can exert a torque of 5 x 10(-9) dyne-cm. (1) Gravity imparts torque to cells; (2) torque is reduced to zero as gravity approaches zero; and (3) torque is sensitive to cell size and particulate distribution. Cells must expend energy to maintain positional homeostasis against gravity. Although not previously recognized, Skylab 3 results support this hypothesis: tissue cultures used 58% more glucose on Earth than in space. The implications for developmental biology, physiology, genetics, and evolution are considered. At the cellular and tissue level the concept of "gravity receptors" may be unnecessary.
PMCID: Source: NASA. 00005181
Accession Number: 11542443