Kidney cell electrophoresis in space flight. Rationale, methods, results and flow cytometry applications

P. Todd*, D. R. Morrison, G. H. Barlow, M. L. Lewis, J. W. Lanham, C. Cleveland, K. Williams, M. E. Kunze, C. L. Goolsby

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The purpose of the research project was to develop the most effective means of purifying subpopulations of cultured human embryonic kidney (HEK) cells and produce living subpopulations for study. Originally primarily urokinase, a plasminogen activator found in urine, was the product goal. A series of ground-based electrophoretic and enzymologic studies led to an experiment on the Apollo-Soyuz mission in which evidence for urokinase-rich cell subpopulations was found. The first objective of the present project was to reproduce this result with adequate statistical data and superior technique but with the same apparatus. Owing to the development of a Joint Endeavor Agreement with McDonnell Douglas Astronautics Co. NASA made time available on the Continuous Flow Electrophoresis System (CFES) aboard the space shuttle orbiters. Without the necessity of freezing cells and without worrying about the influence of particle sedimentation or zone convection it became possible and logical to separate cells by CFES in microgravity. The article introduces the subject, describes the space-based electrophoresis apparatus and its testing, reviews results of kidney cell electrophoresis, and presents results in the application of flow cytometry to kidney cell electrophoresis in low gravity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)89-118
Number of pages30
JournalNASA Technical Memorandum
Issue number4069
StatePublished - Oct 1 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography

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