Cell cycle analysis in eukaryotes frequently utilizes chromosome morphology, expression and/or localization of gene products required for various phases of the cell cycle, or the incorporation of nucleoside analogs. During S-phase, DNA polymerases incorporate thymidine analogs such as EdU or BrdU into chromosomal DNA, marking the cells for analysis. For C. elegans, the nucleoside analog EdU is fed to the worms during regular culture and is compatible with immunofluorescent techniques. The germline of C. elegans is a powerful model system for the studies of signaling pathways, stem cells, meiosis, and cell cycle because it is transparent, genetically facile, and meiotic prophase and cellular differentiation/gametogenesis occur in a linear assembly-like fashion. These features make EdU a great tool to study dynamic aspects of mitotically cycling cells and germline development. This protocol describes how to successfully prepare EdU bacteria, feed them to wild-type C. elegans hermaphrodites, dissect the hermaphrodite gonad, stain for EdU incorporation into DNA, stain with antibodies to detect various cell cycle and developmental markers, image the gonad and analyze the results. The protocol describes the variations in the method and analysis for the measurement of S-phase index, M-phase index, G2 duration, cell cycle duration, rate of meiotic entry, and rate of meiotic prophase progression. This method can be adapted to study the cell cycle or cell history in other tissues, stages, genetic backgrounds, and physiological conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere58339
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number140
StatePublished - 2018


  • C
  • Cell cycle
  • Developmental Biology
  • EdU
  • Elegans
  • G2-phase
  • Germline
  • Issue 140
  • M-phase
  • Meiotic S-phase
  • S-phase


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