Microgravity in space can alter human cells. We now know how


Scientists have discovered how living cells may respond and adapt to the near weightlessness experienced in space. The discovery could help protect astronauts from the adverse health risks associated with long-term space missions.

While space isn’t completely free of the effect of gravity, especially immediately around Earth, this fundamental force is much weaker in orbit than on the surface of our planet. For instance, the effect of gravity at the International Space Station (ISS), just 220 miles (354 km) above Earth’s surface, is 90% weaker than on terra firma. This limited gravity is described as “microgravity” and it is known to trigger certain stress responses in the cells of living creatures.

Researchers including Rita Miller, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, have found that a protein modifier called “small ubiquitin-like modifier” or “SUMO” can help cells adapt to microgravity in artificially simulated circumstances. 

Related: Weightlessness and Its Effect on Astronauts

“Under normal gravity conditions, SUMO is known to respond to stress and to play a critical role in many cellular processes, including DNA damage repair, cytoskeleton regulation, cellular division, and protein turnover,” Miller said in a statement (opens in new tab). “This is the first time that SUMO has been shown to have a role in the cell’s response to microgravity.”

SUMO usually interacts with proteins through two types of chemical bonds, by forming a covalent bond  —  the sharing of electrons to form electron pairs between atoms —  with an essential amino acid called lysine, or via noncovalent interactions with another binding partner. Miller and the team looked at both types of SUMO bonding, or SUMOylation, in yeast cells in Earth gravity and in microgravity.

They found that in this organism, which is commonly used by biologists to assess and model cellular processes, the cells they analyzed underwent six cellular divisions whether exposed to normal Earth gravity or microgravity.

To discover the cellular processes that were affected by microgravity, the team simulated these conditions in the yeast using a cell culture vessel developed by NASA. They then compared the levels of protein expression levels (the way in which proteins are synthesized, modified and regulated in living organisms) in cells that were exposed to this weak gravity condition and in other cells that experienced normal Earth gravity. They also looked for which proteins interacted with SUMO in each situation.

What Miller and the team discovered was that in microgravity, 37 proteins had interacted with SUMO and that these showed expression levels had increased by 50% compared to the same measurement in cells exposed to normal Earth gravity.

Of the 37 proteins affected, some are vital for the repairing damaged DNA, something that can be caused in space due to the increased risk of exposure to cosmic radiation. Other proteins that had their interaction with SUMO affected by microgravity included those involved in energy and protein production, maintaining cell shape, cell division and the transport of protein within cells.

“Since SUMO can modify several transcription factors, our work may also lead to a better understanding of how it controls various signaling cascades in response to simulated microgravity,” said Miller.

The team will now attempt to discover if the lack of this SUMO modification in selected proteins can actually be harmful to cells exposed to microgravity. 

Graduate student in Miller’s laboratory, Jeremy Sabo, will present the findings at Discover BMB (opens in new tab), the annual meeting of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, to be held between March 25 – 28 in Seattle. 

Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or on Facebook (opens in new tab). 

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at: community@space.com.

via Space https://ift.tt/8lA6qRY

March 29, 2023 at 01:23PM

Hackers breach Tesla Model 3’s infotainment system in minutes in competition


Internet-connected vehicles bring a world of possibilities for entertainment, convenience, and safety, but they come with risks that many people don’t think about. A few weeks ago, we heard the story of a Tesla owner who was able to unlock and drive away in someone else’s car, but that’s hardly the only security issue with the company’s EVs. Automotive News reported that a French cybersecurity firm recently won a hacking competition with their lightning-quick breach of a new Tesla Model 3.

The team from the French company Synactiv won the competition by accessing the vehicle’s gateway and infotainment subsystems. Impressively, the feat took less than two minutes and involved the group hacking into the car’s head unit. They avoided hacking the car itself due to safety reasons, as they wanted to prevent any unintentional movement with other vehicles and people around.

The Pwn2Own conference gave Synactiv 10 minutes and three attempts to hack the car. They could quickly access the infotainment system and replace the Tesla logo with their own. They hacked the vehicle using its Gateway system, which manages communications between the Model 3 and the Tesla Powerwall, a battery backup system for home use.

In another effort, the team accessed the Tesla through an Ethernet network, and their access allowed them to open the car’s trunk and doors while it was in motion. Combined, the two hacks earned them $350,000 and a new Tesla Model 3.

A Tesla security team was on site and confirmed the hack. The automaker said it would issue a patch for the vulnerability via the cars’ over-the-air update function. This isn’t the first time a Tesla has been backed in a controlled environment. Last year, a researcher unlocked and started a Model S and Model Y. That hack involved redirecting signals between the mobile app, key fob, and car.

It’s easy to poke fun at Tesla, but the company is far from the only one with security flaws. Hackers have breached Volkswagens, Jeeps, and others. Toyota’s supplier portal caused it problems, and some third-party services and apps also pose risks. Researchers found that a popular remote start service created vulnerabilities in a range of car makes and could unlock, start, and locate vehicles without physical access.

Related video:

via Autoblog https://ift.tt/1UkEp2I

March 29, 2023 at 08:44AM