By the end of this section, you will be able to:
- Describe the three stages of interphase
- Discuss the behavior of chromosomes during karyokinesis
- Explain how the cytoplasmic content is divided during cytokinesis
- Define the quiescent G0 phase
The cell cycle is an ordered series of events involving cell growth and cell division that produces two new daughter cells. Cells on the path to cell division proceed through a series of precisely timed and carefully regulated stages of growth, DNA replication, and division that produces two identical (clone) cells. The cell cycle has two major phases: interphase and the mitotic phase (Figure 1). During interphase, the cell grows and DNA is replicated. During the mitotic phase, the replicated DNA and cytoplasmic contents are separated, and the cell divides.
During interphase, the cell undergoes normal growth processes while also preparing for cell division. In order for a cell to move from interphase into the mitotic phase, many internal and external conditions must be met. The three stages of interphase are called G1, S, and G2.
G1 Phase (First Gap)
The first stage of interphase is called the G1 phase (first gap) because, from a microscopic aspect, little change is visible. However, during the G1 stage, the cell is quite active at the biochemical level. The cell is accumulating the building blocks of chromosomal DNA and the associated proteins as well as accumulating sufficient energy reserves to complete the task of replicating each chromosome in the nucleus.
S Phase (Synthesis of DNA)
Throughout interphase, nuclear DNA remains in a semi-condensed chromatin configuration. In the S phase, DNA replication can proceed through the mechanisms that result in the formation of identical pairs of DNA molecules—sister chromatids—that are firmly attached to the centromeric region. The centrosome is duplicated during the S phase. The two centrosomes will give rise to the mitotic spindle, the apparatus that orchestrates the movement of chromosomes during mitosis. At the center of each animal cell, the centrosomes of animal cells are associated with a pair of rod-like objects, the centrioles, which are at right angles to each other. Centrioles help organize cell division. Centrioles are not present in the centrosomes of other eukaryotic species, such as plants and most fungi.
G2 Phase (Second Gap)
In the G2 phase, the cell replenishes its energy stores and synthesizes proteins necessary for chromosome manipulation. Some cell organelles are duplicated, and the cytoskeleton is dismantled to provide resources for the mitotic phase. There may be additional cell growth during G2. The final preparations for the mitotic phase must be completed before the cell is able to enter the first stage of mitosis.
The Mitotic Phase
The mitotic phase is a multistep process during which the duplicated chromosomes are aligned, separated, and move into two new, identical daughter cells. The first portion of the mitotic phase is called karyokinesis, or nuclear division. The second portion of the mitotic phase, called cytokinesis, is the physical separation of the cytoplasmic components into the two daughter cells.
Karyokinesis, also known as mitosis, is divided into a series of phases—prophase, prometaphase, metaphase, anaphase, and telophase—that result in the division of the cell nucleus (Figure 2). Karyokinesis is also called mitosis.
Which of the following is the correct order of events in mitosis?
- Sister chromatids line up at the metaphase plate. The kinetochore becomes attached to the mitotic spindle. The nucleus reforms and the cell divides. Cohesin proteins break down and the sister chromatids separate.
- The kinetochore becomes attached to the mitotic spindle. Cohesin proteins break down and the sister chromatids separate. Sister chromatids line up at the metaphase plate. The nucleus reforms and the cell divides.
- The kinetochore becomes attached to the cohesin proteins. Sister chromatids line up at the metaphase plate. The kinetochore breaks down and the sister chromatids separate. The nucleus reforms and the cell divides.
- The kinetochore becomes attached to the mitotic spindle. Sister chromatids line up at the metaphase plate. Cohesin proteins break down and the sister chromatids separate. The nucleus reforms and the cell divides.
During prophase, the “first phase,” the nuclear envelope starts to dissociate into small vesicles, and the membranous organelles (such as the Golgi complex or Golgi apparatus, and endoplasmic reticulum), fragment and disperse toward the periphery of the cell. The nucleolus disappears (disperses). The centrosomes begin to move to opposite poles of the cell. Microtubules that will form the mitotic spindle extend between the centrosomes, pushing them farther apart as the microtubule fibers lengthen. The sister chromatids begin to coil more tightly with the aid of condensin proteins and become visible under a light microscope.
During prometaphase, the “first change phase,” many processes that were begun in prophase continue to advance. The remnants of the nuclear envelope fragment. The mitotic spindle continues to develop as more microtubules assemble and stretch across the length of the former nuclear area. Chromosomes become more condensed and discrete. Each sister chromatid develops a protein structure called a kinetochore in the centromeric region (Figure 3). The proteins of the kinetochore attract and bind mitotic spindle microtubules. As the spindle microtubules extend from the centrosomes, some of these microtubules come into contact with and firmly bind to the kinetochores. Once a mitotic fiber attaches to a chromosome, the chromosome will be oriented until the kinetochores of sister chromatids face the opposite poles. Eventually, all the sister chromatids will be attached via their kinetochores to microtubules from opposing poles. Spindle microtubules that do not engage the chromosomes are called polar microtubules. These microtubules overlap each other midway between the two poles and contribute to cell elongation. Astral microtubules are located near the poles, aid in spindle orientation, and are required for the regulation of mitosis.
During metaphase, the “change phase,” all the chromosomes are aligned in a plane called the metaphase plate, or the equatorial plane, midway between the two poles of the cell. The sister chromatids are still tightly attached to each other by cohesin proteins. At this time, the chromosomes are maximally condensed.
During anaphase, the “upward phase,” the cohesin proteins degrade, and the sister chromatids separate at the centromere. Each chromatid, now called a chromosome, is pulled rapidly toward the centrosome to which its microtubule is attached. The cell becomes visibly elongated (oval shaped) as the polar microtubules slide against each other at the metaphase plate where they overlap.
During telophase, the “distance phase,” the chromosomes reach the opposite poles and begin to decondense (unravel), relaxing into a chromatin configuration. The mitotic spindles are depolymerized into tubulin monomers that will be used to assemble cytoskeletal components for each daughter cell. Nuclear envelopes form around the chromosomes, and nucleosomes appear within the nuclear area.
Cytokinesis, or “cell motion,” is the second main stage of the mitotic phase during which cell division is completed via the physical separation of the cytoplasmic components into two daughter cells. Division is not complete until the cell components have been apportioned and completely separated into the two daughter cells. Although the stages of mitosis are similar for most eukaryotes, the process of cytokinesis is quite different for eukaryotes that have cell walls, such as plant cells.
In cells such as animal cells that lack cell walls, cytokinesis follows the onset of anaphase. A contractile ring composed of actin filaments forms just inside the plasma membrane at the former metaphase plate. The actin filaments pull the equator of the cell inward, forming a fissure. This fissure, or “crack,” is called the cleavage furrow. The furrow deepens as the actin ring contracts, and eventually the membrane is cleaved in two (Figure 4).
In plant cells, a new cell wall must form between the daughter cells. During interphase, the Golgi apparatus accumulates enzymes, structural proteins, and glucose molecules prior to breaking into vesicles and dispersing throughout the dividing cell. During telophase, these Golgi vesicles are transported on microtubules to form a phragmoplast (a vesicular structure) at the metaphase plate. There, the vesicles fuse and coalesce from the center toward the cell walls; this structure is called a cell plate. As more vesicles fuse, the cell plate enlarges until it merges with the cell walls at the periphery of the cell. Enzymes use the glucose that has accumulated between the membrane layers to build a new cell wall. The Golgi membranes become parts of the plasma membrane on either side of the new cell wall (Figure 4).
Not all cells adhere to the classic cell cycle pattern in which a newly formed daughter cell immediately enters the preparatory phases of interphase, closely followed by the mitotic phase. Cells in G0 phase are not actively preparing to divide. The cell is in a quiescent (inactive) stage that occurs when cells exit the cell cycle. Some cells enter G0 temporarily until an external signal triggers the onset of G1. Other cells that never or rarely divide, such as mature cardiac muscle and nerve cells, remain in G0 permanently.
Scientific Method Connection
Determine the Time Spent in Cell Cycle Stages
Problem: How long does a cell spend in interphase compared to each stage of mitosis?
Background: A prepared microscope slide of blastula cross-sections will show cells arrested in various stages of the cell cycle. It is not visually possible to separate the stages of interphase from each other, but the mitotic stages are readily identifiable. If 100 cells are examined, the number of cells in each identifiable cell cycle stage will give an estimate of the time it takes for the cell to complete that stage.
Problem Statement: Given the events included in all of interphase and those that take place in each stage of mitosis, estimate the length of each stage based on a 24-hour cell cycle. Before proceeding, state your hypothesis.
Test your hypothesis: Test your hypothesis by doing the following:
- Place a fixed and stained microscope slide of whitefish blastula cross-sections under the scanning objective of a light microscope.
- Locate and focus on one of the sections using the scanning objective of your microscope. Notice that the section is a circle composed of dozens of closely packed individual cells.
- Switch to the low-power objective and refocus. With this objective, individual cells are visible.
- Switch to the high-power objective and slowly move the slide left to right, and up and down to view all the cells in the section (Figure 5). As you scan, you will notice that most of the cells are not undergoing mitosis but are in the interphase period of the cell cycle.
- Practice identifying the various stages of the cell cycle, using the drawings of the stages as a guide (Figure 2).
- Once you are confident about your identification, begin to record the stage of each cell you encounter as you scan left to right, and top to bottom across the blastula section.
- Keep a tally of your observations and stop when you reach 100 cells identified.
- The larger the sample size (total number of cells counted), the more accurate the results. If possible, gather and record group data prior to calculating percentages and making estimates.
Record your observations: Make a table similar to Table 1 in which you record your observations.
|Results of Cell Stage Identification|
|Phase or Stage||Individual Totals||Group Totals||Percent|
Analyze your data/report your results: To find the length of time whitefish blastula cells spend in each stage, multiply the percent (recorded as a decimal) by 24 hours. Make a table similar to Table to illustrate your data.
|Estimate of Cell Stage Length|
|Phase or Stage||Percent (as Decimal)||Time in Hours|
Draw a conclusion: Did your results support your estimated times? Were any of the outcomes unexpected? If so, discuss which events in that stage might contribute to the calculated time.
The cell cycle is an orderly sequence of events. Cells on the path to cell division proceed through a series of precisely timed and carefully regulated stages. In eukaryotes, the cell cycle consists of a long preparatory period, called interphase. Interphase is divided into G1, S, and G2 phases. The mitotic phase begins with karyokinesis (mitosis), which consists of five stages: prophase, prometaphase, metaphase, anaphase, and telophase. The final stage of the mitotic phase is cytokinesis, during which the cytoplasmic components of the daughter cells are separated either by an actin ring (animal cells) or by cell plate formation (plant cells).
Additional Self Check Questions
1. Which of the following is the correct order of events in mitosis?
A. Sister chromatids line up at the metaphase plate. The kinetochore becomes attached to the mitotic spindle. The nucleus reforms and the cell divides. Cohesin proteins break down and the sister chromatids separate.
B. The kinetochore becomes attached to the mitotic spindle. Cohesin proteins break down and the sister chromatids separate. Sister chromatids line up at the metaphase plate. The nucleus reforms and the cell divides.
C. The kinetochore becomes attached to the cohesin proteins. Sister chromatids line up at the metaphase plate. The kinetochore breaks down and the sister chromatids separate. The nucleus reforms and the cell divides.
D. The kinetochore becomes attached to the mitotic spindle. Sister chromatids line up at the metaphase plate. Cohesin proteins break down and the sister chromatids separate. The nucleus reforms and the cell divides.
2. Briefly describe the events that occur in each phase of interphase.
3. Chemotherapy drugs such as vincristine and colchicine disrupt mitosis by binding to tubulin (the subunit of microtubules) and interfering with microtubule assembly and disassembly. Exactly what mitotic structure is targeted by these drugs and what effect would that have on cell division?
4. Describe the similarities and differences between the cytokinesis mechanisms found in animal cells versus those in plant cells.
5. List some reasons why a cell that has just completed cytokinesis might enter the G0 phase instead of the G1 phase.
6. What cell cycle events will be affected in a cell that produces mutated (non-functional) cohesin protein?
1. D. The kinetochore becomes attached to the mitotic spindle. Sister chromatids line up at the metaphase plate. Cohesin proteins break down and the sister chromatids separate. The nucleus reforms and the cell divides.
2.During G1, the cell increases in size, the genomic DNA is assessed for damage, and the cell stockpiles energy reserves and the components to synthesize DNA. During the S phase, the chromosomes, the centrosomes, and the centrioles (animal cells) duplicate. During the G2 phase, the cell recovers from the S phase, continues to grow, duplicates some organelles, and dismantles other organelles.
anaphase: stage of mitosis during which sister chromatids are separated from each other
cell cycle: ordered series of events involving cell growth and cell division that produces two new daughter cells
cell plate: structure formed during plant cell cytokinesis by Golgi vesicles, forming a temporary structure (phragmoplast) and fusing at the metaphase plate; ultimately leads to the formation of cell walls that separate the two daughter cells
centriole: rod-like structure constructed of microtubules at the center of each animal cell centrosome
cleavage furrow: constriction formed by an actin ring during cytokinesis in animal cells that leads to cytoplasmic division
condensin: proteins that help sister chromatids coil during prophase
cytokinesis: division of the cytoplasm following mitosis that forms two daughter cells.
G0 phase: distinct from the G1 phase of interphase; a cell in G0 is not preparing to divide
G1 phase: (also, first gap) first phase of interphase centered on cell growth during mitosis
G2 phase: (also, second gap) third phase of interphase during which the cell undergoes final preparations for mitosis
interphase: period of the cell cycle leading up to mitosis; includes G1, S, and G2 phases (the interim period between two consecutive cell divisions
karyokinesis: mitotic nuclear division
kinetochore: protein structure associated with the centromere of each sister chromatid that attracts and binds spindle microtubules during prometaphase
metaphase plate: equatorial plane midway between the two poles of a cell where the chromosomes align during metaphase
metaphase: stage of mitosis during which chromosomes are aligned at the metaphase plate
mitosis: (also, karyokinesis) period of the cell cycle during which the duplicated chromosomes are separated into identical nuclei; includes prophase, prometaphase, metaphase, anaphase, and telophase
mitotic phase: period of the cell cycle during which duplicated chromosomes are distributed into two nuclei and cytoplasmic contents are divided; includes karyokinesis (mitosis) and cytokinesis
mitotic spindle: apparatus composed of microtubules that orchestrates the movement of chromosomes during mitosis
prometaphase: stage of mitosis during which the nuclear membrane breaks down and mitotic spindle fibers attach to kinetochores
prophase: stage of mitosis during which chromosomes condense and the mitotic spindle begins to form
quiescent: refers to a cell that is performing normal cell functions and has not initiated preparations for cell division
S phase: second, or synthesis, stage of interphase during which DNA replication occurs
telophase: stage of mitosis during which chromosomes arrive at opposite poles, decondense, and are surrounded by a new nuclear envelope