Changes in gravitational force induce alterations in gene expression that can be monitored in the live, developing zebrafish heart.
Little is known about the effect 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. Zebrafish embryos, at the 18-20 somite-stage, were exposed to simulated-microgravity for 24 hours. The intensity of GFP fluorescence associated with the heart was then determined using fluorescence microscopy. Our measurements indicated that simulated-microgravity induced a 23.9% increase in GFP-associated fluorescence in the heart. In contrast, the caudal notochord showed a 17.5% increase and the embryo as a whole showed only an 8.5% increase in GFP-associated fluorescence. This suggests that there are specific effects on the heart causing the more dramatic increase. These studies indicate that microgravity can influence gene expression and demonstrate the usefulness of this in vivo model of 'reporter-gene' expression for studying the effects of microgravity.
Gillette-Ferguson, I; Ferguson, DG; Poss, KD; Moorman, SJ
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