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Comparative Analysis of Muscle Atrophy During Spaceflight, Nutritional Deficiency and Disuse in the Nematode Caenorhabditis elegans

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  • Ban-seok Kim
  • Alfredo Alcantara
  • Je-Hyun Moon
  • Atsushi Higashitani
  • Nahoko Higashitani
  • Tim Etheridge
  • Nathaniel J Szewczyk
  • Colleen Deane
  • Christopher Gaffney
  • Akira Higashibata
  • Toko Hashizume
  • Kyoung-hye Yoon
  • Jin Lee
Article number12640
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>10/08/2023
<mark>Journal</mark>International Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number16
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


While spaceflight is becoming more common than before, the hazards spaceflight and space microgravity pose to the human body remain relatively unexplored. Astronauts experience muscle atrophy after spaceflight, but the exact reasons for this and solutions are unknown. Here, we take advantage of the nematode C. elegans to understand the effects of space microgravity on worm body wall muscle. We found that space microgravity induces muscle atrophy in C. elegans from two independent spaceflight missions. As a comparison to spaceflight-induced muscle atrophy, we assessed the effects of acute nutritional deprivation and muscle disuse on C. elegans muscle cells. We found that these two factors also induce muscle atrophy in the nematode. Finally, we identified clp-4, which encodes a calpain protease that promotes muscle atrophy. Mutants of clp-4 suppress starvation-induced muscle atrophy. Such comparative analyses of different factors causing muscle atrophy in C. elegans could provide a way to identify novel genetic factors regulating space microgravity-induced muscle atrophy.