Markus Wehland

Real Microgravity Influences the Cytoskeleton and Focal Adhesions in Human Breast Cancer Cells

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  • Mohamed Zakaria Nassef, Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg
  • ,
  • Sascha Kopp, Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg
  • ,
  • Markus Wehland
  • Daniela Melnik, Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg
  • ,
  • Jayashree Sahana
  • Marcus Krüger, Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg
  • ,
  • Thomas J Corydon
  • Hergen Oltmann, Airbus Defence and Space GmbH, Airbus-Allee 1, D-28199 Bremen, Germany.
  • ,
  • Burkhard Schmitz, Airbus Defence and Space GmbH, Airbus-Allee 1, D-28199 Bremen, Germany.
  • ,
  • Andreas Schütte, Airbus Defence and Space GmbH, Airbus-Allee 1, D-28199 Bremen, Germany.
  • ,
  • Thomas J Bauer, Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg
  • ,
  • Manfred Infanger, Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg
  • ,
  • Daniela Grimm

With the increasing number of spaceflights, it is crucial to understand the changes occurring in human cells exposed to real microgravity (r-µg) conditions. We tested the effect of r-µg on MCF-7 breast cancer cells with the objective to investigate cytoskeletal alterations and early changes in the gene expression of factors belonging to the cytoskeleton, extracellular matrix, focal adhesion, and cytokines. In the Technische Experimente unter Schwerelosigkeit (TEXUS) 54 rocket mission, we had the opportunity to conduct our experiment during 6 min of r-µg and focused on cytoskeletal alterations of MCF-7 breast cancer cells expressing the Lifeact-GFP marker protein for the visualization of F-actin as well as the mCherry-tubulin fusion protein using the Fluorescence Microscopy Analysis System (FLUMIAS) for fast live-cell imaging under r-µg. Moreover, in a second mission we investigated changes in RNA transcription and morphology in breast cancer cells exposed to parabolic flight (PF) maneuvers (31st Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR) PF campaign). The MCF-7 cells showed a rearrangement of the F-actin and tubulin with holes, accumulations in the tubulin network, and the appearance of filopodia- and lamellipodia-like structures in the F-actin cytoskeleton shortly after the beginning of the r-µg period. PF maneuvers induced an early up-regulation of KRT8, RDX, TIMP1, CXCL8 mRNAs, and a down-regulation of VCL after the first parabola. E-cadherin protein was significantly reduced and is involved in cell adhesion processes, and plays a significant role in tumorigenesis. Changes in the E-cadherin protein synthesis can lead to tumor progression. Pathway analyses indicate that VCL protein has an activating effect on CDH1. In conclusion, live-cell imaging visualized similar changes as those occurring in thyroid cancer cells in r-µg. This result indicates the presence of a common mechanism of gravity perception and sensation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3156
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Number of pages25
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jun 2019

    Research areas

  • Breast cancer cells, Cytoskeleton, E-cadherin, F-actin, Focal adhesion, Live-cell imaging, Microgravity, Tubulin, Vinculin

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