PREMISE OF THE STUDY: Gravity has been a major force throughout the evolution of terrestrial organisms, and plants have developed exquisitely sensitive, regulated tropisms and growth patterns that are based on the gravity vector. The nullified gravity during spaceflight allows direct assessment of gravity roles. The microgravity environments provided by the Space Shuttle and International Space Station have made it possible to seek novel insights into gravity perception at the organismal, tissue, and cellular levels. Cell cultures of Arabidopsis thaliana perceive and respond to spaceflight, even though they lack the specialized cell structures normally associated with gravity perception in intact plants; in particular, genes for a specific subset of heat shock proteins (HSPs) and factors (HSFs) are induced. Here we ask if similar changes in HSP gene expression occur during nonspaceflight changes in gravity stimulation. METHODS: Quantitative RT-qPCR was used to evaluate mRNA levels for Hsp17.6A and Hsp101 in cell cultures exposed to four conditions: spaceflight (mission STS-131), hypergravity (centrifugation at 3 g or 16 g), sustained two-dimensional clinorotation, and transient milligravity achieved on parabolic flights. KEY RESULTS: We showed that HSP genes were induced in cells only in response to sustained clinorotation. Transient microgravity intervals in parabolic flight and various hypergravity conditions failed to induce HSP genes. CONCLUSIONS: We conclude that nondifferentiated cells do indeed sense their gravity environment and HSP genes are induced only in response to prolonged microgravity or simulated microgravity conditions. We hypothesize that HSP induction upon microgravity indicates a role for HSP-related proteins in maintaining cytoskeletal architecture and cell shape signaling.
Research Containing: A. thanliana
MIZ1, an essential protein for root hydrotropism, is associated with the cytoplasmic face of the endoplasmic reticulum membrane in Arabidopsis root cells
MIZ1 is encoded by a gene essential for root hydrotropism in Arabidopsis. To characterize the property of MIZ1, we used transgenic plants expressing GFP-tagged MIZ1 (MIZ1-GFP) and mutant MIZ1 (MIZ1(G235E)-GFP) in a miz1-1 mutant. Although both chimeric genes were transcribed, the translational products of MIZ1(G235E)-GFP did not accumulate in roots. Moreover, MIZ1-GFP complemented the mutant phenotype but not MIZ1(G235E)-GFP. The signal corresponding to MIZ1-GFP was detected at high levels in cortical cells and lateral root cap cells and accumulated in compartments in cortical cells. MIZ1-GFP was fractionated into a soluble protein fraction and an endoplasmic reticulum (ER) membrane fraction, where it was bound to the surface of the ER membrane at the cytosolic side.
The European Modular Cultivation System (EMCS) on the ISS allows long-term biological experiments, e.g. on plants. Video cameras provide near real-time 2D images from these experiments. A method to obtain 3D coordinates and stereoscopic images from these 2D images has been developed and is described in this paper. The procedure was developed to enhance the data output of the MULTIGEN-1 experiment in 2007. One of the main objectives of the experiment was to study growth movements of the Arabidopsis plants and the effect of gravity on these. 3D data were important during parts of the experiment and the paper presents the method developed to acquire 3D data, the accuracy of the data, limitations to the technique and ways to improve the accuracy. Sequences of 3D data obtained from the MULTIGEN-1 experiment are used to illustrate the potential of this newfound capability of the EMCS. In the experiment setup, a positional depth accuracy of about ±0.4 mm for relative object distances and an absolute depth accuracy of about ±1.4 mm for time dependent phenomena was reached. The ability to both view biological specimens in 3D as well as obtaining quantitative 3D data added greatly to the scientific output of the MULTIGEN-1 experiment. The uses of the technique to other researchers and their experiments are discussed.
Auxin transport and ribosome biogenesis mutant/reporter lines to study plant cell growth and proliferation under altered gravity
We tested different Arabidopsis thaliana strains to check their availability for space use in the International Space Station (ISS). We used mutants and reporter gene strains affecting factors of cell proliferation and cell growth, to check variations induced by an altered gravity vector. Seedlings were grown either in a Random Positioning Machine (RPM), under simulated microgravity (µg), or in a Large Diameter Centrifuge (LDC), under hypergravity (2g). A combination of the two devices (µg RPM+LDC) was also used. Under all gravity alterations, seedling roots were longer than in control 1g conditions, while the levels of the nucleolar protein nucleolin were depleted. Alterations in the pattern of expression of PIN2, an auxin transporter, and of cyclin B1, a cell cycle regulator, were shown. All these alterations are compatible with previous space data, so the use of these strains will be useful in the next experiments in ISS, under real microgravity.