The International Caenorhabditis elegans Experiment First Flight (ICE-First) was a project using C. elegans as a model organism to study the biological effects of short duration spaceflight (11 days in the International Space Station). As a member of the ICE-First research team, our group focused on the mutational effects of spaceflight. Several approaches were taken to measure mutational changes that occurred during the spaceflight including measurement of the integrity of poly-G/poly-C tracts, determination of the mutation frequency in the unc-22 gene, analysis of lethal mutations captured by the genetic balancer eT1(III;V), and identification of alterations in telomere length. By comparing the efficiency, sensitivity, and convenience of these methods, we deduced that the eT1 balancer system is well-suited for capturing, maintaining and recovering mutational events that occur over several generations during spaceflight. In the course of this experiment, we have extended the usefulness of the eT1 balancer system by identifying the physical breakpoints of the eT1 translocation and have developed a PCR assay to follow the eT1 chromosomes. C. elegans animals were grown in a defined liquid media during the spaceflight. This is the first analysis of genetic changes in C. elegans grown in the defined media. Although no significant difference in mutation rate was detected between spaceflight and control samples, which is not surprising given the short duration of the spaceflight, we demonstrate here the utility of worms as an integrating biological dosimeter for spaceflight.
Research Containing: Translocation
Stability of chromosome aberrations in the blood lymphocytes of astronauts measured after space flight by FISH chromosome painting
Follow-up measurements of chromosome aberrations in the blood lymphocytes of astronauts were performed by FISH chromosome painting at various intervals from 5 months to more than 5 years after space flight and compared to preflight baseline measurements. For five of the six astronauts studied, the analysis of individual time courses for translocations revealed a temporal decline of yields with half-lives ranging from 10 to 58 months. The yield of exchanges remained unchanged for the sixth astronaut during an observation period of 5 months after flight. These results may indicate complications with the use of stable aberrations for retrospective dose reconstruction, and the differences in the decay time may reflect individual variability in risk from space radiation exposure.