Bromodeoxyuridine (5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine, BrdU, BUdR, BrdUrd) is a synthetic nucleoside that is an analog of thymidine. BrdU is commonly used in the detection of proliferating cells in living tissues. 5-Bromodeoxycytidine is deaminated to form BrdU.
BrdU can be incorporated into the newly synthesized DNA of replicating cells (during the S phase of the cell cycle), substituting for thymidine during DNA replication. Antibodies specific for BrdU can then be used to detect the incorporated chemical (see immunohistochemistry), thus indicating cells that were actively replicating their DNA. Binding of the antibody requires denaturation of the DNA, usually by exposing the cells to acid or heat.
BrdU can be passed to daughter cells upon replication. BrdU has been demonstrated to be detectable over two years post-infusion.
Because BrdU can replace thymidine during DNA replication, it can cause mutations, and its use is therefore potentially a health hazard. However, because it is neither radioactive nor myelotoxic at labeling concentrations, it is widely preferred for in vivo studies of cancer cell proliferation. However, at radiosensitizing concentrations, BrdU becomes myelosuppressive thus limiting its use for radiosensitizing.
BrdU differs from thymidine in that BrdU substitutes a Br group for thymidine's CH3 group. The Br substitution can be used in X-Ray diffraction experiments in crystals containing either DNA or RNA. The Br atom acts as an anomalous scatterer and its larger size will affect the crystal's x-ray diffraction enough to detect isomorphous differences as well.
Bromodeoxyuridine releases gene silencing caused by DNA methylation.
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