Microgravity conditions affect DNA methylation of muscle cells, slowing their differentiation
Astronauts go through many physiological changes during their time in spaceflight, including lower muscle mass and slower muscle development. Similar symptoms can occur in the muscles of people on Earth's surface, too. In fact, it could affect everyone to some extent later in life.
"Age-related skeletal muscle disorders, such as sarcopenia, are becoming a greater concern in society," said Hiroshima University (HU) Professor and Space Bio-Laboratories Director Louis Yuge. "It is especially a big concern in Japan, where the number of aging people is increasing."
In a study published in Microgravity, a medical research group at HU led by Yuge shed light on these similarities. They found that the process that affects gene expression of differentiating muscle cells in space also affects cells in the presence of gravity.
The genetic and molecular basis of impaired muscle development has been unclear. Yuge thinks there is a pressing need to understand it and come up with better treatment outcomes.
He and his team investigated how simulated microgravity - that is, gravity in space-like conditions - affects muscle cell differentiation and gene expression.
They observed what happened to rat muscle cells over time. Some cells were treated with a drug that stops DNA methylation from happening, while other cells were not. DNA methylation is a process that controls gene expression and muscle cell differentiation.
Next, they grew the cells either in normal gravity or inside of Gravite, a machine that simulates gravity at levels that astronauts experience in spaceflight. Cells in microgravity exhibited less cell differentiation after all. However, cells growing without the drug formed muscle fibers at a slower rate and showed less gene expression.
One gene, Myod1, was of particular interest. Its expression levels were significantly lower in microgravity conditions and when growing with the drug that stopped DNA methylation.
Within gravity, as well as without it, the group concluded that DNA methylation appears to be a key player in regulating muscle cell differentiation. "These findings highlight genes affected by DNA methylation, like Myod1, as potential targets for treating patients with skeletal muscle atrophy," Yuge said.
The team's results can be utilized in space experiments, where muscle atrophy of astronauts uses myotubes because it is easy to understand morphologically. Additionally, the findings of this epigenetics can be used in many differentiated cells, stem cells, or cancer. The Micro-G Center of the Kennedy Space Center of NASA, where Yuge is an advisory committee member, and NASA have already conducted experiments to cultivate stem cells on the International Space Station, where this paper can also provide insight. Yuge and his team are expected to start a massive space experiment at NASA/Center for Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS).
Nori Miyokawa | EurekAlert!
First use of vasoprotective antibody in cardiogenic shock
17.05.2019 | Deutsches Zentrum für Herz-Kreislauf-Forschung e.V.
A nerve cell serves as a “single” for studies
15.05.2019 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
Engineers at the University of Tokyo continually pioneer new ways to improve battery technology. Professor Atsuo Yamada and his team recently developed a...
With a quantum coprocessor in the cloud, physicists from Innsbruck, Austria, open the door to the simulation of previously unsolvable problems in chemistry, materials research or high-energy physics. The research groups led by Rainer Blatt and Peter Zoller report in the journal Nature how they simulated particle physics phenomena on 20 quantum bits and how the quantum simulator self-verified the result for the first time.
Many scientists are currently working on investigating how quantum advantage can be exploited on hardware already available today. Three years ago, physicists...
'Quantum technologies' utilise the unique phenomena of quantum superposition and entanglement to encode and process information, with potentially profound benefits to a wide range of information technologies from communications to sensing and computing.
However a major challenge in developing these technologies is that the quantum phenomena are very fragile, and only a handful of physical systems have been...
Working group led by physicist Professor Ulrich Nowak at the University of Konstanz, in collaboration with a team of physicists from Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, demonstrates how skyrmions can be used for the computer concepts of the future
When it comes to performing a calculation destined to arrive at an exact result, humans are hopelessly inferior to the computer. In other areas, humans are...
Scientists develop a molecular recording tool that enables in vivo lineage tracing of embryonic cells
The beginning of new life starts with a fascinating process: A single cell gives rise to progenitor cells that eventually differentiate into the three germ...
29.04.2019 | Event News
17.04.2019 | Event News
15.04.2019 | Event News
17.05.2019 | Materials Sciences
17.05.2019 | Physics and Astronomy
17.05.2019 | Materials Sciences