Gravitational Effects on Human Physiology

  • Yoriko Atomi
Part of the Subcellular Biochemistry book series (SCBI, volume 72)


Physical working capacity decreases with age and also in microgravity. Regardless of age, increased physical activity can always improve the physical adaptability of the body, although the mechanisms of this adaptability are unknown. Physical exercise produces various mechanical stimuli in the body, and these stimuli may be essential for cell survival in organisms. The cytoskeleton plays an important role in maintaining cell shape and tension development, and in various molecular and/or cellular organelles involved in cellular trafficking. Both intra and extracellular stimuli send signals through the cytoskeleton to the nucleus and modulate gene expression via an intrinsic property, namely the “dynamic instability” of cytoskeletal proteins. αB-crystallin is an important chaperone for cytoskeletal proteins in muscle cells. Decreases in the levels of αB-crystallin are specifically associated with a marked decrease in muscle mass (atrophy) in a rat hindlimb suspension model that mimics muscle and bone atrophy that occurs in space and increases with passive stretch. Moreover, immunofluorescence data show complete co-localization of αB-crystallin and the tubulin/microtubule system in myoblast cells. This association was further confirmed in biochemical experiments carried out in vitro showing that αB-crystallin acts as a chaperone for heat-denatured tubulin and prevents microtubule disassembly induced by calcium. Physical activity induces the constitutive expression of αB-crystallin, which helps to maintain the homeostasis of cytoskeleton dynamics in response to gravitational forces. This relationship between chaperone expression levels and regulation of cytoskeletal dynamics observed in slow anti-gravitational muscles as well as in mammalian striated muscles, such as those in the heart, diaphragm and tongue, may have been especially essential for human evolution in particular. Elucidation of the intrinsic properties of the tubulin/microtubule and chaperone αB-crystallin protein complex systems is expected to provide valuable information for high-pressure bioscience and gravity health science.


Cytoskeleton Dynamic instability Mechanical stress response Molecular chaperone Slow muscle 


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.204 Research Center for Science and TechnologyTokyo University of Agriculture and TechnologyKoganei-shiJapan

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