The truth about astronaut Scott Kelly’s viral ‘space genes’

When Scott Kelly went into space, his DNA remained fundamentally the same ‘ a ‘Holy Grail’ for synthetic biology Dear Science: Why are some genes dominant and some genes recessive? How do your 20,000 genes determine so many wildly different traits?

The truth about astronaut Scott Kelly’s viral ‘space genes’

In March 2016, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly returned‘from an unprecedented 340-day mission’on the International Space Station. A year later, his doctors released preliminary’results of an extensive study comparing his health to that of his earthbound identical twin, Mark. And’in January, NASA announced that attendees at a’recent scientific workshop agreed on the initial medical conclusion ‘ that space travel takes a significant toll and’can result in changes’at the molecular level.

At no point in that process was Scott Kelly zapped by an alien laser beam, attacked by a xenomorph or otherwise transfigured into a previously unknown mutant variety of human.

But you wouldn’t know that from reading some of the’coverage the’January’announcement inexplicably spawned this week ‘ articles claiming that the mission activated Kelly’s ‘space genes,’ that 7 percent of his’genes’didn’t return to normal post-spaceflight, and that he and his brother are no longer identical twins.

Aside from being about old news, these stories are biologically impossible. If 7 percent of Kelly’s genome was altered, he would be about as different from a human as a rhesus monkey.

The actual transformation is much subtler.’According to’a’NASA’s research‘ which is still preliminary, with the agency expecting to publish a more complete study this year ‘ it was not Kelly’s genes that changed but how they were expressed.

Reference

While you’re here, how about this:

The truth about astronaut Scott Kelly’s ‘space genes’

In March 2016, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly returned from an unprecedented 340-day mission on the International Space Station. A year later, his doctors released preliminary results of an extensive study comparing his health to that of his earthbound identical twin brother, Mark. And this past January, NASA announced that attendees at a recent scientific workshop agreed on the initial medical conclusion – that space travel takes a significant toll and can result in changes at the molecular level.

At no point in that process was Scott Kelly zapped by an alien laser beam, attacked by a xenomorph or otherwise transfigured into a previously unknown mutant variety of human.

But you wouldn’t know that from reading some of the coverage the January announcement inexplicably spawned this week – articles claiming that the mission activated Kelly’s "space genes," that 7 percent of his genes didn’t return to normal post-spaceflight, and that he and Mark are no longer identical twins.

Aside from being about old news, these stories are biologically impossible. If 7 percent of Kelly’s genome was altered, he would be about as different from a human as a rhesus monkey.

The actual transformation is much subtler. According to NASA’s research – which is still preliminary, with the agency expecting to publish a more complete study this year – it’s not Kelly’s genes that changed but how they were expressed.

Reference

We Were Totally Wrong About That Scott Kelly Space Genes Story

On Monday (March 12), we published a story about astronaut Scott Kelly returning after a year in space with big changes to his genetic code, so much so that he was no longer his brother's identical twin.

It turns out we got the story wrong in a big way. In the original story, we reported that 7 percent of Kelly's genetic code had changed after his stint in space. But that enormous level of genetic change would mean Kelly went to outer space and came back a space alien: All humans share more than 99 percent of our DNA, and we share more than 98 percent of our DNA with chimpanzees, our closest living relatives.

That divergence in chimp versus human DNA comes from roughly 40 million mutations in the base-pairs, or letters, that make up the genetic code, Live Science previously reported. By contrast, in a press release from NASA, researchers reported hundreds of unique mutations in the DNA of both Scott and Mark Kelly (his identical twin brother). That's more than would be expected, but nowhere near enough to make the duo "no longer identical twins." In reality, identical twins that are both Earth-bound would also rack up mutations over the course of their lives; identical twins ordinarily don't have perfectly identical genomes.

Reference

Watching: Scott Kelly, When Scott Kelly, Holy Grail

Comments

Regarding the recent discovery that astronaut Scott Kelly’s DNA is now different from his twin’s, why couldn’t they just take his DNA before he went to space and additionaly then compare when he got back?
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Here’s some extra reading:

The truth about astronaut Scott Kelly’s viral ‘space genes’
on 16th of Mar 2018 ‘Washington PostThe truth about astronaut Scott Kelly’s ‘space genes’‘Chicago TribuneWe Were Totally Wrong About That Scott Kelly Space Genes Story‘Live ScienceNASA Twins Study Investigators to Release Integrated Paper in 2018 | NASA‘NASANo, Scott Kelly’s Year in Space Didn’t Mutate His DNA‘National Geographic

Astronaut’s gene expression no longer same as his identical twin, NASA finds
(Mar 2018) ‘CNNAstronaut Scott Kelly’s DNA Did Not ‘Change in Space’ the Way You Think‘GizmodoNASA Twins Study Investigators to Release Integrated Paper in 2018 | NASA‘NASANo, space did not permanently alter 7 percent of Scott Kelly’s DNA‘The Verge

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