ASGSB 2003 Annual Meeting Abstracts


LINKING GENE EXPRESSION CHANGES TO ALTERED BEHAVIOR IN HYPERGRAVITY FOR Drosophila melanogaster.  1S. Bhattacharya, 1M.E. Sanchez, 1T.F. Fahlen, 1R.S. Stowers. 1NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA.

   Drosophila melanogaster (fruit fly) is a well-characterized model organism with molecular systems comparable to mammalian systems including humans. We have observed behavioral changes in D. melanogaster following exposure to hypergravity. Young male flies were exposed to different levels of gravity by centrifugation at the Ames Centrifuge Facilities. Compared to non-centrifuged controls, the animals showed an altered behavior pattern during the centrifugation period. Our data show that the activity level of the flies decreases drastically during the early period of centrifugation and subsequently return to more normal levels several hours later. It is interesting then, that after an initial period of quiescence, the fly is able to compensate for the change in gravity environment by resuming normal activity.  In order to understand the molecular and cellular basis of these observed behavioral compensations, we conducted gene expression analyses with microarrays. Our initial results implicate a subset of Drosophila genes that may be responsible for triggering a signal transduction cascade in the brain of the fly resulting in altered activity levels as a response to increased gravity. Genetic tools have also allowed us to explore the specificity of this response in different regions of the brain.

(Supported by NASA: Space Station Biological Research Projects, and NASA 121-10-50 for Hypergravity Research Project)


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