New insights into how cells sense and respond to the weightlessness experienced in space were presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology on March 28.

The findings could help keep astronauts healthy on future space missions.

The gravitational conditions of space, known as microgravity, trigger a unique set of cellular stress responses. Now, researchers have discovered that the protein modifier SUMO plays a critical role in cellular adaptation to simulated microgravity.

“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,” said Professor Rita Miller, who led the study in a press release.

“This is the first time that SUMO has been shown to have a role in the cell’s response to microgravity.”

Obviously, the shorter the flight time, the less microgravity related biological impact. Faster is better. Long duration space travel is hard on DNA based water bags like ourselves. To read more, click here.