Transient and sustained increases in inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate precede the differential growth response in gravistimulated maize pulvini.
The internodal maize pulvinus responds to gravistimulation with differential cell elongation on the lower side. As the site of both graviperception and response, the pulvinus is an ideal system to study how organisms sense changes in orientation. We observed a transient 5-fold increase in inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate (IP3) within 10 s of gravistimulation in the lower half of the pulvinus, indicating that the positional change was sensed immediately. Over the first 30 min, rapid IP3 fluctuations were observed between the upper and lower halves. Maize plants require a presentation time of between 2 and 4 h before the cells on the lower side of the pulvinus are committed to elongation. After 2 h of gravistimulation, the lower half consistently had higher IP3, and IP3 levels on the lower side continued to increase up to approximately 5-fold over basal levels before visible growth. As bending became visible after 8-10 h, IP3 levels returned to basal values. Additionally, phosphatidylinositol 4-phosphate 5-kinase activity in the lower pulvinus half increased transiently within 10 min of gravistimulation, suggesting that the increased IP3 production was accompanied by an up-regulation of phosphatidylinositol 4, 5-bisphosphate biosynthesis. Neither IP3 levels nor phosphatidylinositol 4-phosphate 5-kinase activity changed in pulvini halves from vertical control plants. Our data indicate the involvement of IP3 and inositol phospholipids in both short- and long-term responses to gravistimulation. As a diffusible second messenger, IP3 provides a mechanism to transmit and amplify the signal from the perceiving to the responding cells in the pulvinus, coordinating a synchronized growth response. (+info)
Effects of tilt of the gravito-inertial acceleration vector on the angular vestibuloocular reflex during centrifugation.
Effects of tilt of the gravito-inertial acceleration vector on the angular vestibuloocular reflex during centrifugation. Interaction of the horizontal linear and angular vestibuloocular reflexes (lVOR and aVOR) was studied in rhesus and cynomolgus monkeys during centered rotation and off-center rotation at a constant velocity (centrifugation). During centered rotation, the eye velocity vector was aligned with the axis of rotation, which was coincident with the direction of gravity. Facing and back to motion centrifugation tilted the resultant of gravity and linear acceleration, gravito-inertial acceleration (GIA), inducing cross-coupled vertical components of eye velocity. These components were upward when facing motion and downward when back to motion and caused the axis of eye velocity to reorient from alignment with the body yaw axis toward the tilted GIA. A major finding was that horizontal time constants were asymmetric in each monkey, generally being longer when associated with downward than upward cross coupling. Because of these asymmetries, accurate estimates of the contribution of the horizontal lVOR could not be obtained by simply subtracting horizontal eye velocity profiles during facing and back to motion centrifugation. Instead, it was necessary to consider the effects of GIA tilts on velocity storage before attempting to estimate the horizontal lVOR. In each monkey, the horizontal time constant of optokinetic after-nystagmus (OKAN) was reduced as a function of increasing head tilt with respect to gravity. When variations in horizontal time constant as a function of GIA tilt were included in the aVOR model, the rising and falling phases of horizontal eye velocity during facing and back to motion centrifugation were closely predicted, and the estimated contribution of the compensatory lVOR was negligible. Beating fields of horizontal eye position were unaffected by the presence or magnitude of linear acceleration during centrifugation. These conclusions were evaluated in animals in which the low-frequency aVOR was abolished by canal plugging, isolating the contribution of the lVOR. Postoperatively, the animals had normal ocular counterrolling and horizontal eye velocity modulation during off-vertical axis rotation (OVAR), suggesting that the otoliths were intact. No measurable horizontal eye velocity was elicited by centrifugation with angular accelerations +info)
Effects of spaceflight on rhesus quadrupedal locomotion after return to 1G.
Effects of spaceflight on Rhesus quadrupedal locomotion after return to 1G. Locomotor performance, activation patterns of the soleus (Sol), medial gastrocnemius (MG), vastus lateralis (VL), and tibialis anterior (TA) and MG tendon force during quadrupedal stepping were studied in adult Rhesus before and after 14 days of either spaceflight (n = 2) or flight simulation at 1G (n = 3). Flight simulation involved duplication of the spaceflight conditions and experimental protocol in a 1G environment. Postflight, but not postsimulation, electromyographic (EMG) recordings revealed clonus-like activity in all muscles. Compared with preflight, the cycle period and burst durations of the primary extensors (Sol, MG, and VL) tended to decrease postflight. These decreases were associated with shorter steps. The flexor (TA) EMG burst duration postflight was similar to preflight, whereas the burst amplitude was elevated. Consequently, the Sol:TA and MG:TA EMG amplitude ratios were lower following flight, reflecting a "flexor bias." Together, these alterations in mean EMG amplitudes reflect differential adaptations in motor-unit recruitment patterns of flexors and extensors as well as fast and slow motor pools. Shorter cycle period and burst durations persisted throughout the 20-day postflight testing period, whereas mean EMG returned to preflight levels by 17 days postflight. Compared with presimulation, the simulation group showed slight increases in the cycle period and burst durations of all muscles. Mean EMG amplitude decreased in the Sol, increased in the MG and VL, and was unchanged in the TA. Thus adaptations observed postsimulation were different from those observed postflight, indicating that there was a response unique to the microgravity environment, i.e., the modulations in the nervous system controlling locomotion cannot merely be attributed to restriction of movement but appear to be the result of changes in the interpretation of load-related proprioceptive feedback to the nervous system. Peak MG tendon force amplitudes were approximately two times greater post- compared with preflight or presimulation. Adaptations in tendon force and EMG amplitude ratios indicate that the nervous system undergoes a reorganization of the recruitment patterns biased toward an increased recruitment of fast versus slow motor units and flexor versus extensor muscles. Combined, these data indicate that some details of the control of motor pools during locomotion are dependent on the persistence of Earth's gravitational environment. (+info)
Graviresponses of certain ciliates and flagellates.
Protozoa are eukaryotic cells and represent suitable model systems to study the mechanisms of gravity perception and signal transduction due to their clear gravity-induced responses (gravitaxis and gravikinesis). Among protists, parallel evolution for graviperception mechanisms have been identified: either sensing by distinct stato-organelles (e.g., the Muller vesicles of the ciliate Loxodes) or by sensing the density difference between the whole cytoplasm and the extracellular medium (as proposed for Paramecium and Euglena). These two models are supported by experiments in density-adjusted media, as the gravitaxis of Loxodes was not affected, whereas the orientation of Paramecium and Euglena was completely disturbed. Both models include the involvement of ion channels in the cell membrane. Diverse experiments gave new information on the mechanism of graviperception in unicellular systems, such as threshold values in the range of 10% of gravity, relaxation of the responses after removal of the stimulus, and no visible adaptation phenomena during exposure to hypergravity or microgravity conditions for up to 12 days. (+info)
Statoliths motions in gravity-perceiving plant cells: does actomyosin counteract gravity?
Statocytes from plant root caps are characterized by a polar arrangement of cell organelles and sedimented statoliths. Cortical microtubules and actin microfilaments contribute to development and maintenance of this polarity, whereas the lack of endoplasmic microtubules and prominent bundles of actin microfilaments probably facilitates sedimentation of statoliths. High-resolution video microscopy shows permanent motion of statoliths even when sedimented. After immunofluorescence microscopy using antibodies against actin and myosin II the most prominent labeling was observed at and around sedimented statoliths. Experiments under microgravity have demonstrated that the positioning of statoliths depends on the external gravitational force and on internal forces, probably exerted by the actomyosin complex, and that transformation of the gravistimulus evidently occurs in close vicinity to the statoliths. These results suggest that graviperception occurs dynamically within the cytoplasm via small-distance sedimentation rather than statically at the lowermost site of sedimentation. It is hypothesized that root cap cells are comparing randomized motions with oriented motions of statoliths and thereby perceiving gravity. (+info)
Neuronal mechanisms for the control of body orientation in Clione I. Spatial zones of activity of different neuron groups.
The marine mollusk Clione limacina, when swimming, can stabilize different body orientations in the gravitational field. Here we describe one of the modes of operation of the postural network in Clione-maintenance of the vertical, head-up orientation. Experiments were performed on the CNS-statocyst preparation. Spike discharges in the axons of different types of neurons were recorded extracellularly when the preparation was rotated in space through 360 degrees in different planes. We characterized the spatial zones of activity of the tail and wing motor neurons as well as of the CPB3 interneurons mediating the effects of statocyst receptor cells on the tail motor neurons. It was found that the activity of the tail motor neurons increased with deviation of the preparation from the normal, rostral-side-up orientation. Their zones of activity were very wide ( approximately 180 degrees ). According to the zone position, three distinct groups of tail motor neuron (T1-T3) could be distinguished. The T1 group had a center of the zone near the ventral-side-up orientation, whereas the zones of T2 and T3 had their centers near the left-side-up and the right-side-up positions, respectively. By comparing the zone of activity with the direction of tail bending elicited by each of the groups, one can conclude that gravitational reflexes mediated by the T1, T2, and T3 groups will evoke turning of the animal toward the head-up orientation. Two identified wing motor neurons, 1A and 2A, causing the wing beating, were involved in gravitational reactions. They were activated with the downward inclination of the ipsilateral side. Opposite reactions were observed in the motor neurons responsible for the wing retraction. A presumed motor effect of these reactions is an increase of oscillations in the wing that is directed downward and turning of Clione toward the head-up orientation. Among the CPB3 interneurons, at least four groups could be distinguished. In three of them (IN1, IN2, and IN3), the zones of activity were similar to those of the three groups (T1, T2, and T3) of the tail motor neurons. The group IN4 had the center of its zone in the dorsal-side-up position; a corresponding group was not found among the tail motor neurons. In lesion experiments, it was found that gravitational input mediated by a single CPB3 interneuron produced activation of its target tail motor neurons in their normal zones, but the strength of response was reduced considerably. This finding suggests that several interneurons with similar spatial zones converge on individual tail motor neurons. In conclusion, because of a novel method, activity of the neuronal network responsible for the postural control in Clione was characterized in the terms of gravitational responses in different neuron groups comprising the network. (+info)
Black holes in the milky way galaxy.
Extremely strong observational evidence has recently been found for the presence of black holes orbiting a few relatively normal stars in our Milky Way Galaxy and also at the centers of some galaxies. The former generally have masses of 4-16 times the mass of the sun, whereas the latter are "supermassive black holes" with millions to billions of solar masses. The evidence for a supermassive black hole in the center of our galaxy is especially strong. (+info)