How do most cells divide (mitosis)?

Cells need to divide for your body to grow and for body tissue such as skin to continuously renew itself. When a cell divides, the outer membrane increasingly pinches inward until the new cells that are forming separate from each other. This process typically produces two new (daughter) cells from one (parent) cell.

Illustration: The division of the nucleus is an important part of normal cell division (mitosis) – as described in the article

During cell division, the contents of the parent cell are copied and divided between the two daughter cells. Before this can happen, the nucleus of the parent cell needs to divide. The division of the nucleus is an important part of normal cell division: It ensures that the daughter cells have the same genetic information as the parent cell.

What happens during mitosis?

Illustration: The genetic information is stored in the DNA in the nucleus of the cell The genetic information is stored in the DNA in the nucleus of the cell. You can picture the DNA as long threads inside the nucleus. These threads are the chromosomes.
Illustration: Before a cell divides, its entire genetic information is copied Before a cell divides, its entire genetic information is replicated: An identical copy of each chromosome is made.
Illustration: The strands of DNA condense and become visible The strands of DNA become more tightly packed into a condensed form and can be seen under a microscope. Each original DNA strand and its copy remain attached to each other in one place.
Illustration: The chromosomes line up along the center of the cell After that, the membrane surrounding the nucleus breaks down and the chromosomes line up along the center of the cell.
Illustration: The two copies of the individual chromosomes move to opposite sides of the cell There they separate, and the two copies of the individual chromosomes move to opposite sides of the cell. The cell membrane starts pinching inward.
Illustration: The genetic information is enclosed in a new nuclear membrane in each of the daughter cells The genetic information is enclosed in a new nuclear membrane in each of the daughter cells.
Illustration: Both daughter cells have the same genetic information as the parent cell The chromosomes uncoil and turn into long threads of DNA again. Each of the two daughter cells now contain the same genetic information as the parent cell. Both cells often assume the same function as the parent cell. But sometimes one of the two daughter cells develops into a cell that performs a different job.

Menche N (Ed). Biologie Anatomie Physiologie. Munich: Urban und Fischer; 2016.

Pschyrembel. Klinisches Wörterbuch. Berlin: De Gruyter; 2017.

Schmidt R, Lang F, Heckmann M. Physiologie des Menschen: mit Pathophysiologie. Berlin: Springer; 2017.

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Created on April 11, 2019
Next planned update: 2022

Authors/Publishers:

Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG, Germany)

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