Microgravity induces alterations in the function- ing of immune cell; however, the underlying mechanisms have not yet been identified. In this study, hemocytes (blood cells) of the blue mussel Mytilus edulis were investigated under altered gravity conditions. The study was conducted on the ground in preparation for the BIOLAB TripleLux- B experiment, which will be performed on the International Space Station (ISS). On-line kinetic measurements of reac- tive oxygen species (ROS) production during the oxidative burst and thus cellular activity of isolated hemocytes were performed in a photomultiplier (PMT)-clinostat (simulated microgravity) and in the 1g operation mode of the clino- stat in hypergravity on the Short-Arm Human Centrifuge (SAHC) as well as during parabolic flights. In addition to studies with isolated hemocytes, the effect of altered gravity conditions on whole animals was investigated. For this pur- pose, whole mussels were exposed to hypergravity (1.8 g) on a multi-sample incubator centrifuge (MuSIC) or to simu- lated microgravity in a submersed clinostat. After exposure for 48 h, hemocytes were taken from the mussels and ROS production was measured under 1 g conditions. The results from the parabolic flights and clinostat studies indicate that mussel hemocytes respond to altered gravity in a fast and reversible manner. Hemocytes (after cryo-conservation)exposed to simulated microgravity (μ g), as well as fresh hemocytes from clinorotated animals, showed a decrease in ROS production. Measurements during a permanent exposure of hemocytes to hypergravity (SAHC) show a decrease in ROS production. Hemocytes of mussels mea- sured after the centrifugation of whole mussels did not show an influence to the ROS response at all. Hypergravity dur- ing parabolic flights led to a decrease but also to an increase in ROS production in isolated hemocytes, whereas the cen- trifugation of whole mussels did not influence the ROS response at all. This study is a good example how ground- based facility experiments can be used to prepare for an upcoming ISS experiment, in this case the TRIPLE LUX B experiment.
Research Containing: Hypergravity
Suppression of Hydroxycinnamate Network Formation in Cell Walls of Rice Shoots Grown under Microgravity Conditions in Space
Network structures created by hydroxycinnamate cross-links within the cell wall architecture of gramineous plants make the cell wall resistant to the gravitational force of the earth. In this study, the effects of microgravity on the formation of cell wall-bound hydroxycinnamates were examined using etiolated rice shoots simultaneously grown under artificial 1 g and microgravity conditions in the Cell Biology Experiment Facility on the International Space Station. Measurement of the mechanical properties of cell walls showed that shoot cell walls became stiff during the growth period and that microgravity suppressed this stiffening. Amounts of cell wall polysaccharides, cell wall-bound phenolic acids, and lignin in rice shoots increased as the shoot grew. Microgravity did not influence changes in the amounts of cell wall polysaccharides or phenolic acid monomers such as ferulic acid (FA) and p-coumaric acid, but it suppressed increases in diferulic acid (DFA) isomers and lignin. Activities of the enzymes phenylalanine ammonia-lyase (PAL) and cell wall-bound peroxidase (CW-PRX) in shoots also increased as the shoot grew. PAL activity in microgravity-grown shoots was almost comparable to that in artificial 1 g-grown shoots, while CW-PRX activity increased less in microgravity-grown shoots than in artificial 1 g-grown shoots. Furthermore, the increases in expression levels of some class III peroxidase genes were reduced under microgravity conditions. These results suggest that a microgravity environment modifies the expression levels of certain class III peroxidase genes in rice shoots, that the resultant reduction of CW-PRX activity may be involved in suppressing DFA formation and lignin polymerization, and that this suppression may cause a decrease in cross-linkages within the cell wall architecture. The reduction in intra-network structures may contribute to keeping the cell wall loose under microgravity conditions.
Spaceflight engages heat shock protein and other molecular chaperone genes in tissue culture cells of Arabidopsis thaliana
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.
Cell wall-bound peroxidase activity and lignin formation in azuki bean epicotyls grown under hypergravity conditions
The effects of accelerated gravity stimuli on the cell wall-bound peroxidase activity and the lignin content were investigated along epicotyls of azuki bean (Vigna angularis) seedlings. The endogenous growth occurred primarily in the upper regions of the epicotyl, but no growth was detected in the middle or basal regions. Hypergravity treatment at 300g for 6h suppressed elongation growth and stimulated lateral expansion of the upper regions. The content of acetyl bromide-soluble lignin increased gradually from the apical to the basal regions of epicotyls. Hypergravity treatment stimulated the increase in the lignin content in epicotyls, particularly in the middle and basal regions. The peroxidase activity in the protein fraction extracted with a high ionic strength buffer from the cell wall preparation also increased gradually toward the basal region, and hypergravity treatment increased the activity in all epicotyl regions. There was a close correlation between the lignin content and the enzyme activity. These results suggest that hypergravity increases the activity of cell wall-bound peroxidase followed by increases of the lignin formation in epicotyl cell walls, which may contribute to increasing the rigidity of cell walls against the gravitational force.
Gramineous plants, such as rice, wheat, and maize, are essential crops. The cell wall composition of gramineous plants is distinguished from that of dicotyledons, such as Arabidopsis, pea, and mung bean. In cell walls of gramineous plants, arabinoxylans and β-glucans are the major matrix polysaccharides and they make network structure within cell wall architecture. Gravitational stimuli affect the metabolism of β-glucans in gramineous shoots; hypergravity suppressed the β-glucan breakdown, when it inhibited shoot elongation. The opposite results were obtained under microgravity conditions in space. On the other hand, the arabinoxylan and diferulic acid (DFA) contents increased under continuous hypergravity conditions. Since arabinoxylans are cross-linked by DFA-bridges, continuous hypergravity may stimulate the formation of arabinoxylan-DFA network within cell walls. These findings suggest that the β-glucan metabolism is primarily involved in the mechanism of growth regulation, while the arabinoxylan-DFA network has a load-bearing function against the gravitational force. The modification of these wall constituents may contribute to the capacity of gramineous plants to sustain their structure and growth under altered gravity conditions.
Changes in levels of cell wall constituents in wheat seedlings grown under continuous hypergravity conditions
Effects of continuous hypergravity stimuli on the amounts and composition of cell wall constituents were investigated in wheat shoots. Hypergravity (300 g) treatment for three days after germination increased the net amount of cell wall polysaccharides such as hemicellulose and cellulose, but reduced the shoot elongation. As a result, the amount of cell wall polysaccharides per unit length of shoot increased under hypergravity. The hemicellulose fraction contained polysaccharides in the middle and low molecular mass range (5 kDa-1 MDa) and increased in response to hypergravity. Also, the amounts of arabinose (Ara) and xylose (Xyl), the major sugar components of the hemicellulose fraction, increased under hypergravity conditions. In addition to wall polysaccharides, hypergravity increased the amounts of cell wall-bound phenolic acids, such as ferulic acid (FA) and diferulic acid (DFA). Furthermore, the activity of phenylalanine ammonia-lyase (PAL, EC 126.96.36.199) was enhanced under hypergravity conditions. These results suggest that continuous hypergravity stimulates the synthesis of cell wall constituents, especially hemicellulosic arabinoxylans and cell wall-bound FA and DFA in wheat shoots. The increased PAL activity may promote the formation of FA and DFA. These changes in cell wall architecture may be involved in making rigid and tough cell walls under hypergravity conditions and thereby contribute to the ability of plant to sustain their structures against gravitational stimuli.
Increase in the level of arabinoxylan–hydroxycinnamate network in cell walls of wheat coleoptiles grown under continuous hypergravity conditions
Changes in the amount and composition of cell wall constituents in response to continuous hypergravity stimuli were studied in wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) coleoptiles. The lengths of coleoptiles grown under hypergravity (300 g) conditions for 2–4 days from germination stage were 60–70% of those of 1 g control. However, the net amounts of hemicellulosic polysaccharides and cellulose in hypergravity-treated coleoptiles increased progressively as much as those in the control coleoptiles. As a result, their contents per unit length of coleoptile largely increased under hypergravity conditions. In the hemicellulose fraction, the amounts of arabinose and xylose, the major components of the fraction, prominently increased in response to hypergravity. When hemicellulosic polysaccharides were separated into neutral and acidic polymers by an anion-exchange column, the amounts of the acidic fraction consisting of (glucurono)arabinoxylans were higher in hypergravity-treated coleoptiles than in control coleoptiles. The amounts of cell wall-bound ferulic acid and diferulic acid (DFA) increased dramatically in both 1 g control and hypergravity-treated coleoptiles. Particularly, the amounts of DFA in hypergravity-treated coleoptiles were significantly higher than those in control coleoptiles during the incubation period. These results suggest that continuous hypergravity increases the rigid network structures via arabinoxylan–hydroxycinnamate cross-links within cell wall architecture in wheat coleoptiles. These structures may have a load-bearing function and contribute to construct the stable cell wall against the gravitational force.
Experiments are described in which the development of the gravity-sensing organs was studied in newt larvae reared in microgravity on the IML-2 mission and in Aplysia embryos and larvae reared on a centrifuge at 1 to 5 g. In Aplysia embryos, the statolith (single dense mass on which gravity and linear acceleration act) was reduced in size in a graded fashion at increasing g. In early post-metamorphic Aplysia or even in isolated statocysts from such animals, the number of statoconia produced is reduced at high g. Newt larvae launched before any of the otoconia were formed and reared for 15 days in microgravity had nearly adult labyrinths at the end of the IML-2 mission. The otoliths of the saccule and utricle were the same size in flight and ground-reared larvae. However, the system of aragonitic otoconia produced in the endolymphatic sac in amphibians was much larger and developed earlier in the flight-reared larvae. At later developmental stages, the aragonitic otoconia enter and fill the saccule. One flight-reared larva was maintained for nine months post-flight and the size of the saccular otolith, as well as the volume of otoconia within the endolymphatic sac, were considerably larger than in age-matched, ground-reared newts. This suggests that rearing in microgravity initiates a process that continues for several months after introduction to 1-g, which greatly increases the volume of otoconia. The flight-reared animal had abnormal posture, pointing its head upward, whereas normal ground-reared newts always keep their head horizontal. This suggests that rearing for even a short period in microgravity can have lasting functional consequences in an animal subsequently reared in 1-g conditions on Earth.
Development of gravity-sensing organs in altered gravity conditions: opposite conclusions from an amphibian and a molluscan preparation
Fertilization of sea urchin eggs and sperm motility are negatively impacted under low hypergravitational forces significant to space flight
Sperm and other flagellates swim faster in microgravity (microG) than in 1 G, raising the question of whether fertilization is altered under conditions of space travel. Such alterations have implications for reproduction of plant and animal food and for long-term space habitation by man. We previously demonstrated that microG accelerates protein phosphorylation during initiation of sperm motility but delays the sperm response to the egg chemotactic factor, speract. Thus sperm are sensitive to changes in gravitational force. New experiments using the NiZeMi centrifugal microscope examined whether low hypergravity (hyperG) causes effects opposite to microG on sperm motility, signal transduction, and fertilization. Sperm % motility and straight-line velocity were significantly inhibited by as little as 1.3 G. The phosphorylation states of FP130, an axonemal phosphoprotein, and FP160, a cAMP-dependent salt-extractable flagellar protein, both coupled to motility activation, showed a more rapid decline in hyperG. Most critically, hyperG caused an approximately 50% reduction in both the rate of sperm-egg binding and fertilization. The similar extent of inhibition of both fertilization parameters in hyperG suggests that the primary effect is on sperm rather than eggs. These results not only support our earlier microG data demonstrating that sperm are sensitive to small changes in gravitational forces but more importantly now show that this sensitivity affects the ability of sperm to fertilize eggs. Thus, more detailed studies on the impact of space flight on development should include studies of sperm function and fertilization.