Journal of Molecular Histology

, Volume 49, Issue 3, pp 229–234 | Cite as

BrdU/EdU dual labeling to determine the cell-cycle dynamics of defined cellular subpopulations

  • Lachlan Harris
  • Oressia Zalucki
  • Michael PiperEmail author
Short Communication


Measuring the mean duration of synthesis-phase (Ts) and of the total cell-cycle (Tc) within progenitor cell populations can provide important insights into the biology governing these cells. Rather than a passive process that shows little variability across cellular contexts, the cell-cycle is instead highly regulated. For example, in the rodent forebrain, Ts is selectively lengthened in radial glial progenitor cells undergoing symmetric versus asymmetric division. This lengthening is thought to minimize the potential for copying errors that can occur during DNA replication. Manipulating cell-cycle duration can also affect cell fate, demonstrating that in certain circumstances cell-cycle duration is an instructive process. Currently, cell-cycle length is typically measured using either cumulative labeling with a single thymidine analogue, or via dual thymidine analogue labeling approaches. However, these methods are often time-consuming and inefficient. Here, using the embryonic mouse cerebral cortex as a model system, we describe a simplified dual thymidine analogue protocol using BrdU and EdU that can be used to measure Ts and Tc. The advantage of this protocol over cumulative labeling approaches is that only a single time-point is required for measurement. An additional benefit of this protocol over existing dual-analog approaches (CldU/IdU) is the antibody-free detection of EdU and the acid-free detection of BrdU, processes allowing for the parallel use of specific antibodies so as to measure the cell-cycle in immunologically defined cellular subpopulations.


Cell-cycle Dual labeling Cumulative labeling BrdU EdU S-phase 



This work was funded by an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Project Grant (DP160100368 to MP). MP was supported by an ARC Future Fellowship (FT120100170). LH was supported by an Australian Postgraduate Fellowship. Microscopy was performed in the Queensland Brain Institute’s Advanced Microscopy Facility.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The School of Biomedical Sciences, The Faculty of MedicineThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.Queensland Brain Institute, The Faculty of MedicineThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia

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