Cell Division implantation Cell Division implantation
The Biology

Following fertilisation, the single cell splits into two and then into four cells and so on. This process is known as Cell Division. First, cells copy their genetic information or “genes” and these are then shared equally between the two new cells. Genes are made of DNA and are located in the centre of the cell in the nucleus. During cell division they appear as finger-like structures called chromosomes.
(above) Top cell is just about to divide , while the lower cell is dividing, separating its chromosomes (pink) equally into two groups.

Film Cedit: Jason Swedlow, University of Dundee
Images © Wellcome Images

How it works

There are multiple steps to cell division. Chromosomes first condense (prophase), then matching pairs of chromosomes line up along the middle of the cell (metaphase). Chromosomes are then attached to microtubules which form a spindle-like network at either end of the cell.

Image © Wellcome Images
Microtubules now pull the chromosomes apart (anaphase). The cell then splits into two with each new cell containing an identical set of genes (telophase).

Find out more:
About genes, DNA and chromosomes

A free key textbook account of the cell cycle - Chapter 18 of Essential Cell Biology

Key labs that work on Cell Division:
Professor Tomo Tanaka, University of Dundee

Jason Swedlow, University of Dundee

Kim Nasmyth, University of Oxford

Read a scientific article
A review of the mechanics of mitosis

When development goes wrong

Mistakes in cell division can have major consequences. A well-known example of this is Down syndrome, where failure to segregate chromosomes equally into the two new cells during the production of sperm or eggs results in an embryo with an extra copy of chromosome 21.

Image © 2011 Trustees of Dartmouth College 

Problems with cell division can occur in adults too. This can lead to diseases such as Cancer where cells divide without control and make mistakes in chromosome separation.

(picture) Left cell dividing correctly, but left cancer cell (right) has not separated chromosomes (light blue) equally between cells.

There are now many treatments available for cancer patients, including tumour removal by surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

Find out more:
Cancer Research UK funds researchers working on many different kinds of cancer. Studies range from investigation of fundamental biological processes whose malfunction causes cells to become cancerous, to trials for possible treatments for cancer.
Cancer Research UK

Down Syndrome Association

Anaphase Dress: Details

Anaphase dress: Silk, mirrored paper, viscose jersey

The floating breastplate shows pairs of chromosomes pulling apart as a cell divides.
Red fringing is a reminder of the spindles along which the chromosomes are drawn.

Copyright Helen Storey


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