The Landscape of DNA and RNA Methylation Before, During, and After Human Space Travel (Twins Study - Mason) - 11.22.16
Although identical twins are genetically almost the same, differences in environment, diet and other outside factors can affect their health in different ways. The Twins Study is an integrated compilation of ten studies at multiple research centers that examines the effects of space travel on twin astronauts, one of whom stays on the International Space Station (ISS) for one year while his twin remains on Earth. The Landscape of DNA and RNA Methylation Before, During, and After Human Space Travel (Twins Study – Mason) studies how microgravity and other spaceflight-related environmental factors influence chemical changes in RNA and DNA, and how they relate to the various changes noted by other Twins Study investigators. Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending Experiment Details
Christopher Mason, Ph.D., Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY, United States
Ari Melnick, M.D., Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York, NY, United States
George S. Grills, Ph.D., Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, United States
Francine E. Garrett-Bakelman, M.D., Ph.D., Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY, United States
NASA Johnson Space Center, Human Research Program, Houston, TX, United States
Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD)
Space Exploration, Earth Benefits, Scientific Discovery
ISS Expedition Duration
March 2015 - September 2015
- The Twins Study provides the extraordinary opportunity to control variables of individual genetic differences, susceptibilities and lifestyle factors, making differential effects observed between the twins spaceflight-specific.
- The Landscape of DNA and RNA Methylation Before, During, and After Human Space Travel (Twins Study – Mason) investigation examines genome-wide epigenetic profiles of DNA methylation changes in an astronaut and his ground-based twin control.
- The study also establishes a comprehensive catalog of coding and noncoding, small and large RNA, and maps RNA methylation sites in an astronaut and his ground-based twin control.
Spaceflight causes chemical changes to DNA and RNA, which can change the function of genes involved in biological processes including, but not limited to, metabolism, immune function and gastrointestinal flora. This investigation studies changes in DNA and RNA methylation that take place in one astronaut during a one-year space mission compared to his twin brother on Earth. Results are expected to establish the patterns of gene expression for astronauts, their altered regulation in space, and other genetic changes that are activated by space travel, providing an unprecedented window into how space affects human biology at the molecular level. Understanding how environmental stressors influence RNA and DNA methylation may help to enable long-term space travel for future missions.
Chemical changes in RNA and DNA are involved in cancer, aging, changes in circadian rhythms, and many other functions. Understanding how environmental stressors influence RNA and DNA methylation may prove useful in the development of new treatments and preventive measures for related health issues on Earth.
Operational Requirements and Protocols
Decadal Survey Recommendations
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Mason Lab - Integrative Functional Genomics
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