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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2006 Jul;72(7):4569-75.

Effects of low-shear modeled microgravity on cell function, gene expression, and phenotype in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

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  • 1Division of Health Sciences, WWAMI Medical Program, Montana State University, 308 Leon Johnson Hall, P.O. Box 173080, Bozeman, MT 59717, USA.


Only limited information is available concerning the effects of low-shear modeled microgravity (LSMMG) on cell function and morphology. We examined the behavior of Saccharomyces cerevisiae grown in a high-aspect-ratio vessel, which simulates the low-shear and microgravity conditions encountered in spaceflight. With the exception of a shortened lag phase (90 min less than controls; P < 0.05), yeast cells grown under LSMMG conditions did not differ in growth rate, size, shape, or viability from the controls but did differ in the establishment of polarity as exhibited by aberrant (random) budding compared to the usual bipolar pattern of controls. The aberrant budding was accompanied by an increased tendency of cells to clump, as indicated by aggregates containing five or more cells. We also found significant changes (greater than or equal to twofold) in the expression of genes associated with the establishment of polarity (BUD5), bipolar budding (RAX1, RAX2, and BUD25), and cell separation (DSE1, DSE2, and EGT2). Thus, low-shear environments may significantly alter yeast gene expression and phenotype as well as evolutionary conserved cellular functions such as polarization. The results provide a paradigm for understanding polarity-dependent cell responses to microgravity ranging from pathogenesis in fungi to the immune response in mammals.

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