Protein pattern of Xenopus laevis embryos grown in simulated microgravity


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Numerous studies indicate that microgravity affects cell growth and differentiation in many living organisms, and various processes are modified when cells are placed under conditions of weightlessness. However, until now, there is no coherent explanation for these observations, and little information is available concerning the biomolecules involved. Our aim has been to investigate the protein pattern of Xenopus laevis embryos exposed to simulated microgravity during the first 6 days of development. A proteomic approach was applied to compare the protein profiles of Xenopus embryos developed in simulated microgravity and in normal conditions. Attention was focused on embryos that do not present visible malformations in order to investigate if weightlessness has effects at protein level in the absence of macroscopic alterations. The data presented strongly suggest that some of the major components of the cytoskeleton vary in such conditions. Three major findings are described for the first time: (i) the expression of important factors involved in the organization and stabilization of the cytoskeleton, such as Arp (actin-related protein) 3 and stathmin, is heavily affected by microgravity; (ii) the amount of the two major cytoskeletal proteins, actin and tubulin, do not change in such conditions; however, (iii) an increase in the tyrosine nitration of these two proteins can be detected. The data suggest that, in the absence of morphological alterations, simulated microgravity affects the intracellular movement system of cells by altering cytoskeletal proteins heavily involved in the regulation of cytoskeleton remodelling.