What is the cell cycle?
The 'cell cycle' is a way to describe the life of a eukaryotic cell. The cell cycle can be divided into three main stages: Interphase, Mitosis, Cytokinesis. Interphase and mitosis can each be subdivided into smaller stages as shown below.
Interphase - during interphase cells are performing their normal duties and potentially preparing to divide. Interphase can be subdivided into 4 stages.
- G1 (Gap 1) - the cell is doing its normal job. For example, a liver cell is detoxifying the blood or perhaps producing bile and a pancreas beta cell is producing insulin. The cell is also growing.
- G0 (Gap 0) - if a cell is not going to divide it enters G0. This could be a cell that is too old to divide anymore or a cell type that does not divide in our bodies, such as the typical nerve cell.
- S (Synthesis) - if a cell is going to divide it enters the synthesis phase where it replicates its DNA to eventually give identical copies to the two new daughter cells.
- G2 (Gap 2) - in this part of interphase the cell continues to grow and prepare the other parts of the cell for cell division.
Mitosis - is the stage of the cell cycle where the cell appropriately segregates the DNA to the two sides of the cell before it pinches in half to form two new cells that are identical to each other and to the original parent cell. Mitosis is divided into 4 stages.
Cytokinesis - is the division of the cell cytoplasm. This is when the parent cell splits in half to form two new cells.
Cell Cycle - view this animation to see the stages of the cell cycle.
Mitosis - see the stages of mitosis in a side-by-side view of a real cell and an animated one.
The Cell Cycle and Mitosis - go through these short pages to read about the cell cycle and quiz yourself.
Mitosis Stages Practice - use this site to practice identifying the stages of mitosis and to get a feel for the timing of the cell cycle.