DNA methylation dynamics associated with long-term isolation of simulated space travel

iScience. 2022 May 30;25(6):104493. doi: 10.1016/j.isci.2022.104493. eCollection 2022 Jun 17.


Long-term isolation is one of the risk factors that astronauts will encounter in spaceflight. At present, few researches have explored DNA methylation dynamics during long-term isolation. In this study, using time series DNA methylation data from "Mars-500" mission, we conducted a multi-step analysis to investigate the characteristics and dynamic patterns of DNA methylation as well as their functional insights during long-term isolation. The results showed that genome-wide methylation changes were minimal. In the six identified DNA methylation dynamic patterns, most of significantly fluctuating CpG sites could be returned to the baseline in post-isolation, and the remaining sites persistently decreased during isolation. Next, functional enrichment analysis of genes with each pattern revealed strong functional specificity. Some patterns were also significantly associated with nervous system diseases, digestive system diseases and cancers. In conclusion, the DNA methylation dynamics during long-term isolation have great functional significance, and might be helpful for protection of astronaut health.

Keywords: Bioinformatics; Genomic analysis; Space sciences.