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Divide and Split

Can you guess what this colorful image represents? It shows a eukaryotic cell during the process of cell division. In particular, the image shows the nucleus of the cell dividing. In eukaryotic cells, the nucleus divides before the cell itself splits in two; and before the nucleus divides, the cell’s DNA is replicated, or copied. There must be two copies of the DNA so that each daughter cell will have a complete copy of the genetic material from the parent cell. How is the replicated DNA sorted and separated so that each daughter cell gets a complete set of genetic material? To answer that question, you first need to know more about DNA and the forms it takes.

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Figure (PageIndex3): Mitosis is the phase of the eukaryotic cell cycle that occurs between DNA replication and the formation of two daughter cells. Mitosis has four substages, prophase, metaphase, anaphase, and telophase.


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Prophase

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api/deki/files/18045/1024px-Mitotic_Metaphase.svg.png?revision=1&size=bestfit&width=291&height=244" />Figure (PageIndex5): Chromosomes, consisting of sister chromatids, line up at the equator or middle of the cell during metaphase. The blue lines are spindles, and the orange rectangles at the cell poles are centrioles. Some spindles from the opposing centrioles attach with each other, and some spindles attach to the kinetochores of the sister chromosomes from their respective sides. Each chromosome is attached to two spindles.

Anaphase

During anaphase, sister chromatids separate and the centromeres divide. The sister chromatids are pulled apart by the shortening of the spindle fibers. This is a little like reeling in a fish by shortening the fishing line. One sister chromatid moves to one pole of the cell, and the other sister chromatid moves to the opposite pole (see Figure (PageIndex6)). At the end of anaphase, each pole of the cell has a complete set of chromosomes