3.2. The cell cycle

The cell cycle, or cell-division cycle, is the series of events that take place in a cell leading to its division and duplication (replication). In cells without a nucleus (prokaryotic), the cell cycle occurs via a process termed binary fission. In cells with a nucleus (eukaryotes), the cell cycle can be divided in two periods: interphase—during which the cell grows, accumulating nutrients needed for mitosis andduplicating its DNA—and the mitosis (M) phase, during which the cell splits itself into two distinct cells, often called “daughter cells” and the final phase, cytokinesis, where the new cell is completely divided. The cell-division cycle is a vital process by which a single-celled fertilized egg develops into a mature organism, as well as the process by whichhair, skin, blood cells, and some internal organs are renewed.

Phases

The cell cycle consists of four distinct phases: G1 phase, S phase (synthesis), G2 phase (collectively known as interphase) and M phase (mitosis). M phase is itself composed of two tightly coupled processes: mitosis, in which the cell’s chromosomes are divided between the two sister cells, and cytokinesis, in which the cell’s cytoplasm divides in half forming distinct cells. Activation of each phase is dependent on the proper progression and completion of the previous one. Cells that have temporarily or reversibly stopped dividing are said to have entered a state of quiescence called G0 phase.

State Description Abbreviation
quiescent/
senescent
Gap 0 G0 A resting phase where the cell has left the cycle and has stopped dividing.
Interphase Gap 1 G1 Cells increase in size in Gap 1. TheG1 checkpoint control mechanism ensures that everything is ready forDNA synthesis.
Synthesis S DNA replication occurs during this phase.
Gap 2 G2 During the gap between DNA synthesis and mitosis, the cell will continue to grow. The G2 checkpointcontrol mechanism ensures that everything is ready to enter the M (mitosis) phase and divide.
Cell division Mitosis M Cell growth stops at this stage and cellular energy is focused on the orderly division into two daughter cells. A checkpoint in the middle of mitosis (Metaphase Checkpoint) ensures that the cell is ready to complete cell division.

Cell cycle animation

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