Checkpoint and physiological apoptosis in germ cells proceeds normally in spaceflown Caenorhabditis elegans


It is important for human life in space to study the effects of environmental factors during spaceflight on a number of physiological phenomena. Apoptosis plays important roles in development and tissue homeostasis in metazoans. In this study, we have analyzed apoptotic activity in germ cells of the nematode C. elegans, following spacefight. Comparison of the number of cell corpses in wild type or ced-1 mutants, grown under either ground or spaceflight conditions, showed that both pachytene-checkpoint apoptosis and physiological apoptosis in germ cells occurred normally under spaceflight conditions. In addition, the expression levels of the checkpoint and apoptosis related genes are comparable between spaceflight and ground conditions. This is the first report documenting the occurrence of checkpoint apoptosis in the space environment and suggests that metazoans, including humans, would be able to eliminate cells that have failed to repair DNA lesions introduced by cosmic radiation during spaceflight.

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Correspondence to A. Higashitani.

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Higashitani, A., Higashibata, A., Sasagawa, Y. et al. Checkpoint and physiological apoptosis in germ cells proceeds normally in spaceflown Caenorhabditis elegans. Apoptosis 10, 949–954 (2005).

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  • ced-1
  • C. elegans
  • cell corpse
  • checkpoint
  • meiosis
  • pachytene
  • spaceflight