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Revision as of 15:08, 9 May 2013 by Eric Klinkhammer (talk | contribs) (Background)
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We seek to understand how microgravity affects embryonic development in rats and how, if possible, to restore normal growth to embryos while still in microgravity conditions.


We do not currently understand the effect gravity has on cells, but it appears critical to development. Understanding the role gravity plays is an essential step in increasing the human presence in space. Embryonic development has been simulated in microgravity conditions on earth before, and it has been found that the embryos were not able to develop to term. However, already pregnant rats have successfully given birth in space before. It is thought that this developmental failure is a result of the lack of formation of micro tubules at the cellular level, and that this failure happens relatively early in the development process.

Project Description

We hope to precisely identify the time that gravity becomes critical to further development. We will incubate mice embryos under microgravity conditions, and vary the length of time they are allowed to develop both with and without gravity before implantation. It is our hope that we can identify a critical phase of development that requires gravity. We will then examine the embryos at this stage and examine what signal pathways are active and how the cell is interacting with its cytoskelaton support. Finally, we will attempt to activate these pathways to trigger the downstream effects of gravity.


Identify the gravity dependent components of embryonic development and develop a signal or environmental based factor capable of restoring development potential.

Experimental Procedure Summary

Because a mouse must be implanted within five days of zygote formation, without access to a space laborartoy we are limited to testing in this period of time. We will test whether the embryos still develop after being in microgravity conditions for 0-5 days.


3D Clinostat (for microgravity simulation) or access to ISS Fertalized mice embryos and media to culture Female mice