Using Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) Reporter Genes in RNAlater™ Fixed Tissue
Plants in an orbital environment experience conditions that are distinctly unlike the earth-bound environments that have directed their evolution on Earth. This presents a unique opportunity to examine biological responses, particularly those involved in integrating gravity as a force shaping biological systems. One means of measuring these adaptive responses is to monitor the expression of genes that allow survival in those peculiar environments. In a recent series of spaceflight experiments conducted on the International Space Station (ISS) we utilized Arabidopsis thaliana (Arabidopsis) plants engineered with specific gene promoters driving to Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP). These biological sensor plants are referred to as TAGES, an acronym for Transgenic Arabidopsis Gene Expression System. One component of the TAGES Spaceflight experiment was the use of several different GFP reporter gene constructions to record tissue-specific changes in the patterns of gene expression in real time. Another component was the evaluation of genome-wide changes in these plants, a goal that required the use of the nucleic acid preservative RNAlater™ (Ambion).