Effects of Simulated Microgravity on Gene Expression Profile and Biological Phenotype of Caenorhabditis Elegans

By: Tee Ling Fei (lingfei@live.com.my)

Gravity is a force that attracts an object towards the center of the Earth, or towards any other physical body with mass. We are so used to the presence of gravity in our environment and we may not notice the importance and roles of gravity. Has anyone ever think of what will our life be without gravity? Not only that, how will a microgravity environment affect other living organisms as well? In this study, we investigated the effects of simulated microgravity towards Caenorhabditis elegans. C. elegans is a nematode which is commonly used as an animal model for studies in neuroscience and molecular biology. The nematodes (worms) were subjected to microgravity simulated by a Desktop Random Positioning Machine (RPM) for approximately 50 hours, just before they reach gravid. Then, their RNA were extracted for gene expression determination and phenotype observation. Interestingly, we observed that microgravity simulation did not cause much difference in the worm’s gene expression. They were also similar in terms of phenotype (lifespan, locomotion and reproduction capability) with worms that were cultured under earth’s normal gravitational forces. Taking it all together, it seems that worms can thrive well under microgravity simulation…..will that be the same for humans?