Developed at NASA, the rotary cell culture system (RCCS) allows the creation of unique microgravity environment of low shear force, high-mass transfer, and enables three-dimensional (3D) cell culture of dissimilar cell types. Recently we demonstrated that a simulated microgravity is conducive for maintaining long-term cultures of functional hepatocytes and promote 3D cell assembly. Using deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) microarray technology, it is now possible to measure the levels of thousands of different messenger ribonucleic acids (mRNAs) in a single hybridization step. This technique is particularly powerful for comparing gene expression in the same tissue under different environmental conditions. The aim of this research was to analyze gene expression of hepatoblastoma cell line (HepG2) during early stage of 3D-cell assembly in simulated microgravity. For this, mRNA from HepG2 cultured in the RCCS was analyzed by deoxyribonucleic acid microarray. Analyses of HepG2 mRNA by using 6K glass DNA microarray revealed changes in expression of 95 genes (overexpression of 85 genes and downregulation of 10 genes). Our preliminary results indicated that simulated microgravity modifies the expression of several genes and that microarray technology may provide new understanding of the fundamental biological questions of how gravity affects the development and function of individual cells.
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Vol. 37 • No. 2