Transgenic Arabidopsis Gene Expression System (TAGES) investigation is one in a pair of investigations that use the Advanced Biological Research System (ABRS) facility. TAGES uses Arabidopsis thaliana, thale cress, with sensor promoter-reporter gene constructs that render the plants as biomonitors, or an organism used to determine the quality of the surrounding environment, using real-time nondestructive Green Fluorescent Protein imagery and traditional postflight analyses.Principal Investigator(s)
Bionetics Corporation, Cape Canaveral, FL, United States
Kennedy Space Center, , FL, United States
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)Sponsoring Organization
Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD)Research Benefits
Information PendingISS Expedition Duration:
October 2009 - September 2010Expeditions Assigned
21/22,23/24Previous ISS Missions
TAGES is scheduled to arrive on the ISS during the 17A mission.
The Transgenic Arabidopsis Gene Expression System (TAGES) investigation will provide an understanding of physiological processes such as gene expression, metabolism and general plant development that are affected in plant systems exposed to space flight.
TAGES investigation seeks to understand space flight induced molecular changes in Arabidopsis thaliana gene activity. A series of transgenic plants (plants containing foreign DNA integrated into their genome) have been designed for the TAGES investigation. The plants carry sensor promoter-reporter gene constructs that are capable of monitoring a variety of environmental and developmental influences, thereby rendering the plants biomonitors of their environment. Arabidopsis thaliana is the plant of choice to house the sensor promoter-reporter gene constructs due to its well-understood genome and relatively short seed-to-seed cycle, as well as having been the focus of several space flight studies on previous plant experiments conducted during ISS, Mir and Space Shuttle missions.
The first group of biomonitors for TAGES consists of plants with alcohol dehydrogenase (Adh) sensor promoter and beta-glucuronidase (GUS) reporter gene constructions. The second group of biomonitor plants incorporates the Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) reporter gene construction. Two primary goals have been identified for the TAGES experiment: 1) confirm and extend data from an experiment conducted on STS-93 in 1999 by utilizing the GUS reporter gene system, 2) test the fidelity and practicality of the GFP reporter gene system in comparison to GUS.
The GFP Imaging System (GIS) will demonstrate a powerful real-time, non-destructive analytical tool that can be used to assess the status of a target organism. This device will help to revolutionize space-based biological research by ultimately eliminating the resource-intensive need to return biological material to Earth for postflight analysis. This advanced technique can be applied to a host of model organisms engineered with the GFP gene construct including plants, microbes, and nematodes.
TAGES along with the ABRS hardware demonstrates the capabilities of providing the correct environment for plant growth onboard spacecraft. For future long-duration exploration, crews will need to be able to grow plants for a variety of applications.Earth Applications
The miniaturization of the Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) imaging apparatus as a requirement for this spaceflight investigation has produced a device that is easily transportable and may be used as a means for conducting in situ analysis of appropriately genetically prepared biomonitors.
TAGES requires a controlled environment provided by the ABRS facility which also provides images that are downlinked to the ground teams. The crew is responsible for harvesting, reinitialization, water refill and changing out the air filter. After harvesting, parts of the samples are chemically preserved and stored in the Minus Eighty-Degree Laboratory Freezer for ISS (MELFI).Operational Protocols
The crewmembers are responsible for refilling the water reservoir by using a syringe to transfer approximately 60-mL of water from the ISS potable water source to each of two quick disconnect fittings associated with the two reservoirs inside the ABRS. Air filter change out is performed by opening the front hatch of the ABRS locker, loosening a Velcro restraining strap, and pulling each of the two filters off of the back side of the hatch. There are blind mate connectors on the back side of each filter.
For the harvesting of the TAGES A. thaliana plants, crewmembers remove one root tray from the ABRS to access petri plates containing the plants. Plants are harvested from petri plates into the KFTs. The TAGES GUS harvest occurs at L+5 days. The TAGES GFP plants are autonomously imaged within the ABRS facility. About every 2 weeks, TAGES GFP plants are harvested and other plants within ABRS are moved into the field of view of the GFP camera. Some of these KFTs require a day to perfuse the plant tissues before placing in cold stowage at -68 degrees C or colder until return. During the harvests, some petri plates are moved into or out of the field of view of the autonomous GFP Imaging System (GIS) attached to the root tray. TAGES plants for runs 2 and 3 are launched in ambient stowage and transferred to ABRS on ISS.
Paul A, Amalfitano CE, Ferl RJ. Plant growth strategies are remodeled by spaceflight. BMC Plant Biology. 2012; 12(1): 232. DOI: 10.1186/1471-2229-12-232. PMID: 23217113.
Wyatt SE, Kiss JZ. Plant Tropisms: From Darwin to the International Space Station. American Journal of Botany. 2013; 100(1): 1-3. DOI: 10.3732/ajb.1200591. PMID: 23281390.
Paul A, Ferl RJ. Using Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) Reporter Genes in RNALater Fixed Tissue. Gravitational and Space Biology. 2011; 25(1): 40-43.
Paul A, Ferl RJ. Molecular Aspects of Stress-Gene Regulation During Spaceflight. Journal of Plant Growth Regulation. 2002; 21: 166-176. DOI: 10.1007/s003440010050.
Roux SJ. Root waving and skewing - unexpectedly in micro-g. BMC Plant Biology. 2012; 12(1): 231. DOI: 10.1186/1471-2229-12-231. PMID: 23217095.