The Cell CycleDespite differences between prokaryotes and eukaryotes, there are several common features in their cell division processes. Replication of the DNA must occur. Segregation of the "original" and its "replica" follow. Cytokinesis ends the cell division process. Whether the cell was eukaryotic or prokaryotic, these basic events must occur.
Cytokinesis is the process where one cell splits off from its sister cell. It usually occurs after cell division. The Cell Cycle is the sequence of growth, DNA replication, growth and cell division that all cells go through. Beginning after cytokinesis, the daughter cells are quite small and low on ATP. They acquire ATP and increase in size during the G1 phase of Interphase. Most cells are observed in Interphase, the longest part of the cell cycle. After acquiring sufficient size and ATP, the cells then undergo DNA Synthesis which occurs during the S phase. Since the formation of new DNA is an energy draining process, the cell undergoes a second growth and energy acquisition stage, the G2 phase. The energy acquired during G2 is used in cell division .
The cell cycle
Regulation of the cell cycle is accomplished in several ways. Some cells divide rapidly. Others, such as nerve cells, lose their capability to divide once they reach maturity. Some cells, such as liver cells, retain but do not normally utilize their capacity for division. Liver cells will divide if part of the liver is removed. The division continues until the liver reaches its former size.
Cancer cells are those which undergo a series of rapid divisions such that the daughter cells divide before they have reached "functional maturity". Environmental factors such as changes in temperature and pH, and declining nutrient levels lead to declining cell division rates. When cells stop dividing, they stop usually at a point late in the G1 phase, the R point.
Mitosis is the process of forming (generally) identical daughter cells by replicating and dividing the original chromosomes, in effect making a cellular xerox. Commonly the two processes of cell division are confused. Mitosis deals only with the segregation of the chromosomes and organelles into daughter cells.
Structure of a eukaryotic chromosome
During mitosis replicated chromosomes are positioned near the middle of the cytoplasm and then segregated so that each daughter cell receives a copy of the original DNA (if you start with 46 in the parent cell, you should end up with 46 chromosomes in each daughter cell). To do this cells utilize microtubules to "pull" chromosomes into each "cell". The microtubules have the 9+2 arrangement discussed earlier. Animal cells (except for a group of worms known as nematodes) have a centriole. Plants and most other eukaryotic organisms lack centrioles. Prokaryotes, of course, lack spindles and centrioles; the cell membrane assumes this function when it pulls the by-then replicated chromosomes apart during binary fission. Cells that contain centrioles also have a series of smaller microtubules, the aster, that extend from the centrioles to the cell membrane. The aster is thought to serve as a brace for the functioning of the spindle fibers.
Structure of a spindle apparatus.
Prophase is the first stage of mitosis proper. Chromatin condenses, the nuclear envelope dissolves, centrioles (if present) divide and migrate, kinetochores and kinetochore fibers form, and the spindle forms.
The events of Prophase.
Metaphase follows Prophase. The chromosomes migrate to the equator of the spindle, where the spindles attach to the kinetochore fibers.
Anaphase begins with the separation of the centromeres, and the pulling of chromosomes to opposite poles of the spindle.
The events of Metaphase and Anaphase.
Telophase is when the chromosomes reach the poles of their respective spindles, the nuclear envelope reforms, chromosomes uncoil into chromatin form, and the nucleolus reform. Where there was one cell there are now two smaller cells each with exactly the same genetic information. These cells may then develop into different adult forms via the processes of development.
The events of Telophase