How DNA is repaired in Space

How DNA is repaired in Space

A genetic editing experiment conducted for the first time with Crispr-Cas9 on the International Space Station, useful for the protection of astronauts in view of long missions

(photo: Sciepro / Getty Images. Artist's representation of the International Space Station) Crispr-Cas9 also goes beyond the borders of the Earth. For the first time, a team of researchers, in collaboration with the crew of the International Space Station (ISS), has shown that this revolutionary DNA editing system also works in space. The purpose of the experiment was to recreate in a controlled way a particular type of damage to the DNA (the breakage of the double strand, to which astronauts are more exposed due to the action of cosmic radiation) to study how the repair mechanisms of cells intervene in conditions of microgravity and what differences there are with what happens on Earth.

Following the protocol of the Genes in Space project, the researchers inserted the components of the Crispr-Cas9 system into yeast cells (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) sent aboard the ISS: the molecular scissor was designed to cut the double strand of DNA simulating, in a controlled way, a type of damage that cosmic radiation often induces on the genetic material and which can be very dangerous.

The breaking of the double strand can give rise to a series of modifications in the genome that can predispose to the onset of even serious diseases, such as cancer. This DNA injury can also occur on Earth (it is induced for example by UV rays) but astronauts who spend months in space are more exposed, and they will be even more so in the long-term space missions that are coming up. For this reason, according to scientists, it is essential to understand more, and in particular to observe how cells try to repair the damage to DNA in Space: are there any differences compared to what happens on Earth?

The success of experiment, described in the journal Plos One, is a first step in finding the answer. "It is not only about having successfully implemented new technologies such as genome editing with Crispr, PCR and DNA sequencing using nanopores under extreme conditions, but also being able to integrate them into a functionally biotechnological workflow. comprehensive application to the study of DNA repair mechanisms and other fundamental cellular processes in conditions of microgravity, ”commented Sebastian Kraves, head of the study. "These developments make us hope even more in the possibility for the human being to explore and inhabit Space in its vastness", he added.

With the acquisition of new knowledge, in short, perhaps in the future we will be able to better safeguard the health of astronauts and - who knows - colonists from other worlds.

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Crispr DNA genetics Space International space station globalData.fldTopic = "Crispr, Dna, genetics, Space, International Space Station"

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