The Mechanisms and Functional Consequences of Protein Kinase C Isoform Translocation in Monocytes Exposed to Microgravity (PKinase) experiment investigates the effects of microgravity on the maturation process of monocytes (infection fighting white blood cells) into macrophages. Macrophages (mature white blood cells) are key to fighting off infection during space exploration.Principal Investigator(s)
Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Space Biology, Zurich, , Switzerland
European Space Agency (ESA)Sponsoring Organization
Information PendingResearch Benefits
Information PendingISS Expedition Duration
October 2007 - April 2008Expeditions Assigned
16Previous ISS Missions
ISS Expedition 16 is the first mission for PKinase.
Apollo Astronauts, in 15 of 29 Moon Missions, experienced an infection during or immediately after flight. The T-cell and the monocyte are the two immune cells that exhibit altered function in Shuttle crewmembers. Previous experiments show a decrease in monocytes and macrophages in returning crewmembers. Mechanisms and Functional Consequences of Protein Kinase C Isoform Translocation in Monocytes Exposed to Microgravity (PKinase) hypothesizes that microgravity inhibits the maturation of the monocyte into a macrophage. PKinase tests the ability of microgravity to slow macrophage development by stimulating maturation of the monocyte in microgravity and examining resulting adhesion and gene expression as compared to 1g controls.
These experiments determine if gravity is a factor in macrophage formation and in altering normal signal transduction and gene expression of monocytes. PKinase enables investigators to determine the key regulatory steps in macrophage formation, and if gravity is required for macrophage development.
PKinase seeks to characterize the effect of microgravity on the activation of key Protein Kinase C (PKC) isoforms (different forms of same protein), spatial distribution or redistribution of PKC isoforms within the cell, and signaling downstream of PKC in response to mitogenic stimulation (regulates various cellular activities). Pkinase also examines the effect of microgravity on PKC regulated genes which control monocyte differentiation (process by which a less specialized cell becomes more specialized).
PKinase helps scientists understand the immunosuppression that occurs during space flight and can facilitate the development of preventive and corrective measures for long duration missions.Earth Applications
Since all terrestrial life began in a gravity field, this study examines alterations of early T-cell activation, whereby microgravity gives us the unique opportunity to examine the role of Earth's gravity in immune function. The PKinase study shows the regulation of the earliest signals that cause the T-cell to activate and the role of normal Earth's gravity in that signaling.
Cells are placed into the Kubik incubator upon their arrival. The cells are then removed from the Kubik incubator, and activated after three hours. Cells are then placed back into the Kubik incubator.Operational Protocols
Cells are grown in floating piston hardware made by Kaiser Italia. Prior to the launch of the Soyuz, cells are placed into the hardware.
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Hughes-Fulford M, Rodenacker K, Jutting U. Reduction of anabolic signals and alteration of osteoblast nuclear morphology in microgravity. Cellular Biochemistry. 2006; 99: 435-449. DOI: 10.1002/jcb.20883.