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Two isotopic methods for measuring DNA replication in the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe are described. The first is a method for measuring the total quantity of [3H]uracil incorporated into DNA after pulse labelling. The second is a means of detecting DNA replication in single cells by autoradiography. Both of these techniques have been used to investigate the timing and duration of S-phase in a series of mutant strains whose cell mass at division varies over a 3-fold range. The results support the hypothesis that in S. pombe there are 2 different controls over the timing of S-phase: an attainment of a critical cell mass and a dependency upon the completion of the previous mitosis coupled with a short minimum time in G1. Strains whose cell mass at birth is above this critical level initiate DNA replication almost immediately after septation, that is, very soon after the previous mitosis. Strains whose cell mass at birth is below the critical level do not initiate replication until the critical cell mass is attained. The duration of S-phase has been estimated from the proportion of cells whose nuclei are labelled after a pulse of given duration. S-phase is short in S. pombe, lasting only about 0.1 of a cell cycle in wild type. Cell mass at S-phase does not have any consistent effect on this length. We have also investigated the degree of synchrony of S-phase initiation in daughter cells, and have found that, in a cell cycle 240 min long, their S-phases are initiated within 1--2 min of each other. This result indicates that between sisters variability in the duration of the G1 phase is small compared with variability in the total cell cycle time, and argues against the hypothesis that the rate of cell cycle traverse is determined by a random transition in G1.


Journal article


J Cell Sci

Publication Date





215 - 233


Ascomycota, Autoradiography, Cell Cycle, DNA, Fungal, Interphase, Kinetics, Mathematics, Schizosaccharomyces, Uracil