Tritiated thymidine autoradiography has been applied to several renewing epithelial tissues of the adult mouse in order to determine (a) the average time required for DNA synthesis; and (b) the temporal relationship of the synthesis period to the progenitor cycles of these populations. The average duration of DNA synthesis has been computed from curves describing the rates of appearance and disappearance of labeled metaphase figures in epithelia of colon, ileum, duodenum, esophagus, and oral cavity, in both normal and colchicine-treated animals. In general, application of colchicine does not significantly influence the derived values for DNA synthesis duration. The DNA synthetic time is remarkably similar in the tissues examined, despite wide differences in the times required for completion of the progenitor cycle (and for tissue renewal). Synthesis of DNA in these epithelial cells of the mouse requires approximately 7 hours. Agreement between this value and those derived by other investigators for mammalian cells in vivo and in vitro indicates that DNA synthetic time may be a temporal constant, of considerable potential utility to studies of cell proliferation. The advantages and shortcomings of this experimental approach to problems of cell population kinetics in vivo are discussed.

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