5-BROMODEOXYURIDINE (BrdU) at very low concentrations inhibits the expression of cell or tissue-specific characteristics of several differentiating systems (for reviews see refs 1 and 2) including myoblasts3–6, and was postulated to cause its anti-differentiation effects by being incorporated into DNA segments2–6. Available data show, however, that in some cell types, the primary effects of BrdU may be mediated by means other than its incorporation with the genome7,8. To determine whether template modification by BrdU per se is the cause of inhibition of myogenesis, we have investigated the reversal of inhibition by BrdU by various naturally occurring nucleosides, and show that deoxycytidine (and deoxyuridine) reverses the inhibition of myogenesis caused by BrdU without affecting its incorporation into cellular DNA. It seems likely, therefore, that template modification by BrdU may not be the sole cause of the inhibition of fusion of myoblasts brought about by this compound.
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