Crystallization of LRRK2 Under Microgravity Conditions (CASIS PCG 7) - 01.16.19

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

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
Crystallization of LRRK2 Under Microgravity Conditions (CASIS PCG 7) uses the microgravity environment aboard the International Space Station (ISS) to grow larger versions of an important protein, LRRK2, implicated in Parkinson’s disease. Defining the exact shape and morphology of LRRK2 would help scientists better understand the pathology of Parkinson’s and aid in the development of therapies against this target, but gravity keeps Earth-grown versions of this protein too small and too compact to study. CASIS PCG 7 uses automated biotechnology devices to grow larger versions of this protein in space, which are then returned to Earth for detailed laboratory analysis.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by Marco Baptista, Ph.D., Stefan Knapp, Ph.D., Sebastian Mathea, Ph.D., Susan Taylor, Ph.D., and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Experiment Details

OpNom: PCG-7

Principal Investigator(s)
Marco Baptista, Ph.D., The Michael J. Fox Foundation, New York, NY, United States
Stefan Knapp, Ph.D., Goethe-University Frankfurt/Institute of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Frankfurt, Germany
Sebastian Mathea, Ph.D., Goethe University Frankfurt, Frankfurt, Germany
Susan Taylor, Ph.D., University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA, United States

Information Pending

The Michael J. Fox Foundation, New York, NY, United States
Anatrace, Maumee, OH, United States
Com-Pac International, Carbondale, IL, United States

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
National Laboratory (NL)

Research Benefits
Earth Benefits

ISS Expedition Duration
April 2017 - February 2018

Expeditions Assigned

Previous Missions
The Microlytic Crystal Former Optimization Chip (16 Channel) plate has not previously flown, though it is similar to commercially available protein crystal growth hardware that has previous flown.

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Experiment Description

Research Overview
The goal of CASIS PCG 7 is to grow crystals of the LRRK2 protein in the microgravity environment aboard the ISS, for postflight analysis using x-ray diffraction and neutron diffraction studies. The results of the analysis provide researchers with a better detailed view of the crystalline structure of LRRK2. Such information could help programs to develop LRRK2 inhibitor therapies. LRRK2 function is heightened in people with Parkinson’s disease, and is associated with a mutation in the LRRK2 gene. Development of inhibitor therapies targeting the LRRK2 protein may prevent, slow, or stop the progression of Parkinson’s disease.

No detailed research descriptions are available; the research is proprietary. 

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Space Applications
CASIS PCG 7 demonstrates how the microgravity environment of space can be used as a laboratory, and production facility, for next-generation advances in biotechnology. The project uses the microgravity environment to solve a key proteomics challenge, and create new substrates for research advances on Earth. Scientific and pharmaceutical breakthroughs, facilitated by the unique conditions in space, can help to justify and foster investment in both public- and private-sector space programs.

Earth Applications
CASIS PCG 7 uses the facilities and capabilities of the International Space Station in order to contribute to the search for a cure for a major neurodegenerative disease afflicting millions of people. Using the microgravity environment of space to grow larger proteins that lend themselves to imaging, and other analysis, helps scientists understand Parkinson’s and target their efforts at finding a cure. The larger versions of proteins grown in space can also contribute to fundamental understanding of protein structure.

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Operational Requirements and Protocols
Hardware includes the Microlytic Crystal Former Optimization Chip (16 Channel) plate. This hardware is commercially available, and is similar to previously flown protein crystal growth multi-channel/well plates. The hardware launches frozen and is transferred to ambient temperature on the ISS to start the nucleation and crystallization process. Following a growth period of up to 21 days, the hardware is transferred to refrigerated storage for return to Earth for analysis.

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Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

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Results/More Information

Information Pending

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Results Publications

    Mathea S, Baptista M, Reichert P, Spinale Ay, Wu J, Allaire M, Fiske B, Knapp S.  Crystallizing the Parkinson's disease protein LRRK2 under microgravity conditions. bioRxiv; 2018 February 4. [non peer-reviewed preprint]

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Ground Based Results Publications

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ISS Patents

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Related Publications

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Related Websites
The Michael J. Fox Foundation

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