Comprehensive Whole Genome Analysis of Differential Epigenetic Effects of Space Travel on Monozygotic Twins (Twins Study - Feinberg) - 07.11.18

Overview | Description | Applications | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
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 for one year while his twin remains on Earth. Comprehensive Whole Genome Analysis of Differential Epigenetic Effects of Space Travel on Monozygotic Twins (Twins Study – Feinberg) studies the chemical changes to DNA that result from exposure to different environmental conditions, determines whether they are temporary or long-lasting, and looks at how these changes relate to the various changes noted by other Twins Study investigators.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by Andrew Feinberg, MD, MPH, and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Experiment Details

OpNom:

Principal Investigator(s)
Andrew Feinberg, MD, MPH, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, United States

Co-Investigator(s)/Collaborator(s)
Information Pending

Developer(s)
NASA Johnson Space Center, Human Research Program, Houston, TX, United States

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD)

Research Benefits
Earth Benefits, Scientific Discovery, Space Exploration

ISS Expedition Duration
March 2015 - September 2015

Expeditions Assigned
43/44

Previous Missions
None

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • 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 Comprehensive Whole Genome Analysis of Differential Epigenetic Effects of Space Travel on Monozygotic Twins (Twins Study – Feinberg) investigation aims to identify spaceflight-specific factors that influence DNA methylation and chromatin structure.
  • This study also seeks to integrate epigenomic data with exposure to spaceflight conditions, looking for exposure-linked changes and, by comparison to the ground-based twin, determine whether these are transient or long-lived effects.

Description

NASA’s Human Research Program (HRP) and the National Space Biomedical Research Institute have instituted a program to compare the effects of spaceflight accumulated over one year and observe changes in the genetic makeup between twin brothers. This project initiates a pilot demonstration focusing on the use of integrated human analyses to better understand the biomolecular responses to the physical, physiological, and environmental stressors associated with spaceflight. The project emphasis is on the collection of biological specimens and psychological testing from one twin in orbit on the ISS and the collection of corresponding samples and data from his twin on the ground. Sample collection and data analysis occurs before, during and after the one-year mission.
 
The Comprehensive Whole Genome Analysis of Differential Epigenetic Effects of Space Travel on Monozygotic Twins (Twins Study – Feinberg) portion of the overall Twins Study investigation focuses on changes in the epigenome associated with the year-long ISS mission in the space- and earth-bound twin astronauts. DNA methylation and chromatin are measured at a genome-wide level in biological samples obtained from the space traveler before, during, and after flight, as well as from his ground-based twin. Epigenomic data is integrated with exposure to spaceflight conditions to look for exposure-linked changes and, by comparison to the ground-based twin, determine whether these are transient or long-lived effects. Determination of whether DNA mutations arise secondarily to these epigenetic changes is also planned.

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Applications

Space Applications
Spaceflight may cause a host of epigenetic changes, which are changes in DNA memory that affect the activity of genes. This investigation determines how spaceflight-caused epigenetic changes are related to differences in metabolism, immune function and gastrointestinal flora between a crew member living in space and his identical twin on the ground. Results are expected to improve the understanding of how humans adapt to spaceflight and could lead to better countermeasures to protect crew health.

Earth Applications
Environmental stress and radiation can cause chemical changes in DNA that alter the activity of genes. Results from this investigation may provide a greater understanding of how these stressors affect normal gene function, and how they are related to changes in cognitive function, metabolism, gut flora, and the immune system. This information may prove useful in the development of new treatments and preventive measures for related health issues on Earth.

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Operations

Operational Requirements and Protocols


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Decadal Survey Recommendations

CategoryReference
Animal and Human Biology AH16
Behavioral and Mental Health B3

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Results/More Information

Information Pending

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Related Websites
Feinberg Lab
Main Twins Study
Epigenomics

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Imagery

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Sample collection and analysis

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Example of epigenomic throughput

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