Integrative Analysis of Regulatory Module Reveals Associations of Microgravity with Dysfunctions of Multi-body Systems and Tumorigenesis

Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Oct 14;21(20):7585. doi: 10.3390/ijms21207585.


Previous studies have demonstrated that microgravity could lead to health risks. The investigation of the molecular mechanisms from the aspect of systems biology has not been performed yet. Here, we integratively analyzed transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulations based on gene and miRNA expression profiles in human peripheral blood lymphocytes cultured in modeled microgravity. Two hundred and thirty dysregulated TF-miRNA (transcription factor and microRNA) feed-forward loops (FFLs) were identified in microgravity. The immune, cardiovascular, endocrine, nervous and skeletal system subnetworks were constructed according to the functions of dysregulated FFLs. Taking the skeletal system as an example, most of genes and miRNAs in the subnetwork were involved in bone loss. In addition, several drugs have been predicted to have potential to reduce bone loss, such as traditional Chinese medicines Emodin and Ginsenoside Rh2. Furthermore, we investigated the relationships between microgravity and 20 cancer types, and found that most of cancers might be promoted by microgravity. For example, rectum adenocarcinoma (READ) might be induced by microgravity through reducing antigen presentation and suppressing IgA-antibody-secreting cells' migration. Collectively, TF-miRNA FFL might provide a novel mechanism to elucidate the changes induced by microgravity, serve as drug targets to relieve microgravity effects, and give new insights to explore the relationships between microgravity and cancers.

Keywords: cancer; drug; feed-forward loop; miRNA; microgravity; regulatory network.

MeSH terms

  • Bone Resorption / genetics*
  • Bone Resorption / metabolism
  • Carcinogenesis / genetics*
  • Carcinogenesis / metabolism
  • Gene Regulatory Networks*
  • Humans
  • MicroRNAs / genetics
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism
  • Weightlessness*


  • MicroRNAs