BrdU: Tracking DNA during Cell Divisions

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 13:04

Bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) variously abbreviated as BrdU, BudR, and BrdUrd, is a synthetic thymidine analog that gets incorporated into the DNA of dividing cells during the S-phase of the cell cycle and has a long history of heavy use in molecular and cytokinetic studies (1). Due to its ability to substitute itself to T base, BrdU has 2 major applications: visualization of genomic DNA degradation during cell death (apoptosis) and monitoring of the level of proliferation and cell division. Here, we will focus on the second application based on the usage of an anti-BrdU antibody.

Immunohistochemistry: BrdU Antibody

The duplication of the DNA in an organism is essential during cell division. Initiation of DNA synthesis is highly regulated in eukaryotic cells where it is confined to the S-phase of the cell cycle, subsequently central to tissue morphogenesis during the development of multicellular organisms. Furthermore, loss of control of cell proliferation underlies the pathology of diseases like cancer. Antibodies against BrdU conjugated to fluorescent markers can be used to label dividing cells, thereby providing visual evidence of cell division (1,2). Albert Castro and Howard Gratzner were the pioneers in producing antibodies specific to BrdU in 1972. Scientifically, Gratzner is best known for the development of the first monoclonal antibody (mAb) to BrdU and iododeoxyuridine (3). Since then, these antibodies have been used to label a wide variety of cell types, and are commonly used to measure S-phase DNA replication. BrdU has become the method of choice for researchers studying proliferation over the past two decades. Within the biomedical sciences alone, it has been employed in over 20,000 published studies. (1) Bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) has revolutionized our ability to identify dividing cells and follow their fate in various tissues, including the nervous system and it has provided insights into neurodegenerative diseases. (4)

BrdU can be toxic and mutagenic substance in higher dosages. It triggers cell death, the formation of teratomas, alters DNA stability, lengthens the cell cycle, and has mitogenic, transcriptional and translational effects on cells that incorporate it. Despite its toxicity, it is the predominant method to identify proliferating cells due to its high efficiency. (4)

  1. PMID:18369768
  2. PMID:21921870
  3. PMID:14994219
  4. PMID:17020783

Novus Biologicals offers BrdU reagents for your research needs including:


Written By: Solmaz Alizadeh Azami

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