The waterflea Daphnia is an interesting candidate for bioregenerative life support systems (BLSS). These animals are particularly promising because of their central role in the limnic food web and its mode of reproduction. However, the response of Daphnia to altered gravity conditions has to be investigated, especially on the molecular level, to evaluate the suitability of Daphnia for BLSS in space.
In this study, we applied a proteomic approach to identify key proteins and pathways involved in the response of Daphnia to simulated microgravity generated by a two-dimensional (2D) clinostat. We analyzed five biological replicates using 2D-difference gel electrophoresis proteomic analysis.
We identified 109 protein spots differing in intensity (P<0.05). Substantial fractions of these proteins are involved in actin microfilament organization, indicating the disruption of cytoskeletal structures during clinorotation. Furthermore, proteins involved in protein folding were identified, suggesting altered gravity induced breakdown of protein structures in general. In addition, simulated microgravity increased the abundance of energy metabolism-related proteins, indicating an enhanced energy demand of Daphnia.
The affected biological processes were also described in other studies using different organisms and systems either aiming to simulate microgravity conditions or providing real microgravity conditions. Moreover, most of the Daphnia protein sequences are well-conserved throughout taxa, indicating that the response to altered gravity conditions in Daphnia follows a general concept. Data are available via ProteomeXchange with identifier PXD002096.
Image: Heatmap and hierarchical cluster of all protein spot intensity data present in all biological replicates