Changes in gravitational force affect gene expression in developing organ systems at different developmental times

Department of Neuroscience and Cell Biology, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, 675 Hoes Lane, Piscataway, NJ 08854, USA.
BMC Developmental Biology (Impact Factor: 2.67). 02/2005; 5(1):10. DOI: 10.1186/1471-213X-5-10
Source: PubMed


Little is known about the affect of microgravity on gene expression, particularly in vivo during embryonic development. Using transgenic zebrafish that express the gfp gene under the influence of a beta-actin promoter, we examined the affect of simulated-microgravity on GFP expression in the heart, notochord, eye, somites, and rohon beard neurons. We exposed transgenic zebrafish to simulated-microgravity for different durations at a variety of developmental times in an attempt to determine periods of susceptibility for the different developing organ systems.
The developing heart had a period of maximum susceptibility between 32 and 56 hours after fertilization when there was an approximately 30% increase in gene expression. The notochord, eye, somites, and rohon beard neurons all showed periods of susceptibility occurring between 24 and 72 hours after fertilization. In addition, the notochord showed a second period of susceptibility between 8 and 32 hours after fertilization. Interestingly, all organs appeared to be recovering by 80 hours after fertilization despite continued exposure to simulated-microgravity.
These results support the idea that exposure to microgravity can cause changes in gene expression in a variety of developing organ systems in live embryos and that there are periods of maximum susceptibility to the effects.

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