Genes in Space-4 (Genes in Space-4) - 02.07.18

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

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
Genes in Space-4 is a high-school science experiment aboard the International Space Station (ISS) that examines gene expression related to special repair proteins known as heat shock proteins. Many organisms manufacture heat shock proteins to protect cells from heat, cold, radiation, or other stresses, but scientists need a better understanding of the genetic switches that activate these proteins. Genes in Space-4 uses the well-studied worm, C. elegans, and an advanced miniaturized DNA identification system to detect genetic expression of heat shock proteins in the high-radiation microgravity environment of space.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by David Scott Copeland, and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Experiment Details

OpNom: Genes in Space-4

Principal Investigator(s)
Alia Almansoori, Al Mawakeb, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Tessa G. Montague, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, United States

David Scott Copeland, The Boeing Company, Pasadena, TX, United States
Sebastian Kraves, Ph.D., Amplyus, Cambridge, MA, United States
Ezequiel Alvarez Saavedra, Ph.D., Amplyus, Cambridge, MA, United States
Nicole Nichols, Ph.D., Amplyus, Ipswich, MA, United States

Boeing, Houston, TX, United States

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
National Laboratory Education (NLE)

Research Benefits
Earth Benefits, Scientific Discovery

ISS Expedition Duration
April 2017 - February 2018

Expeditions Assigned

Previous Missions
Information Pending

^ back to top

Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • The Genes in Space-4 investigation involves the winning student proposal from the Genes in Space Competition.


Heat shock proteins are a family of chaperone proteins that are induced as a result of different kinds of stress such as physical, chemical, or environmental. Their induction provokes a protective role that hinders the cell from undergoing apoptosis, or cell death. Under stressful conditions the cells elevates the levels of different heat shock proteins that will work to stop different apoptotic proteins. Since astronauts are subjected to different kinds of stressors (cosmic radiation, microgravity, etc.), the heat shock protein response will initiate, but will it be able to offer the ultimate protection after prolonged exposure? This study is unique, because the efficiency of heat shock proteins has not been studied in humans after a prolonged exposure to cosmic radiation and microgravity. Whether astronauts are protected or not with all the stress their cells face is to be determined. The Genes in Space-4 investigation uses the C. elegans worm as a model organism, and observes if the worm expresses the HSP70 heat shock protein.

^ back to top


Space Applications
Genes In Space-4 improves understanding of how to protect biological systems from radiation and cold temperature risks in space on a molecular level. Biotechnology advances related to heat shock proteins can provide better insight into medical treatments, and additionally may help to provide better information on how to protect food systems from radiation exposure during long term space missions. This research also promotes the use of space as a laboratory for exploring biomolecular phenomena under unusual conditions.

Earth Applications
Genes In Space-4 engages students and teachers in grades 7 through 12 in the design and execution of DNA-related experiments aboard the International Space Station. These activities expose students to exciting opportunities in science and engineering, and offer valuable experience for advancing their academic careers. Genes In Space-4 enhances Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education and also supports public understanding of how public and private space partnerships can serve society.

^ back to top


Operational Requirements and Protocols
The samples require late loading into cold stowage for launch, and need to remain in cold stowage until ready for thawing on orbit, immediately prior to operations. The samples must return to cold stowage after operations, and remain in cold stowage through return to Earth. The samples are placed in the miniPCR. Following completion of the miniPCR protocol and the cooling of the hardware, the sample is removed and placed in cold stowage for return to Earth.

^ back to top

Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

^ back to top

Results/More Information

Information Pending

^ back to top

Related Websites
Genes in Space Competition
miniPCR Website

^ back to top