Cell division

Cell division is the process by which a parent cell divides into two or more daughter cells.[1] Cell division usually occurs as part of a larger cell cycle. In eukaryotes, there are two distinct types of cell division: a vegetative division, whereby each daughter cell is genetically identical to the parent cell (mitosis),[2] and a reproductive cell division, whereby the number of chromosomes in the daughter cells is reduced by half to produce haploid gametes (meiosis). Meiosis results in four haploid daughter cells by undergoing one round of DNA replication followed by two divisions. Homologous chromosomes are separated in the first division, and sister chromatids are separated in the second division. Both of these cell division cycles are used in the process of sexual reproduction at some point in their life cycle. Both are believed to be present in the last eukaryotic common ancestor.

Prokaryotes (bacteria) undergo a vegetative cell division known as binary fission, where their genetic material is segregated equally into two daughter cells. All cell divisions, regardless of organism, are preceded by a single round of DNA replication.

For simple unicellular microorganisms such as the amoeba, one cell division is equivalent to reproduction – an entire new organism is created. On a larger scale, mitotic cell division can create progeny from multicellular organisms, such as plants that grow from cuttings. Mitotic cell division enables sexually reproducing organisms to develop from the one-celled zygote, which itself was produced by meiotic cell division from gametes. After growth, cell division by mitosis allows for continual construction and repair of the organism.[3] The human body experiences about 10 quadrillion cell divisions in a lifetime.[4]

The primary concern of cell division is the maintenance of the original cell's genome. Before division can occur, the genomic information that is stored in chromosomes must be replicated, and the duplicated genome must be separated cleanly between cells.[5] A great deal of cellular infrastructure is involved in keeping genomic information consistent between generations.

Three cell growth types
Three types of cell division

Phases of cell division


Interphase is the process a cell must go through before mitosis, meiosis, and cytokinesis.[6] Interphase consists of three main stages: G1, S, and G2. G1 is a time of growth for the cell where specialized cellular functions occur in order to prepare the cell for DNA Replication. There are checkpoints during interphase that allow the cell to be either progressed or denied further development. In S phase, the chromosomes are replicated in order for the genetic content to be maintained. During G2, the cell undergoes the final stages of growth before it enters the M phase, where spindles are synthesized. The M phase, can be either mitosis or meiosis depending on the type of cell. Germ cells, or gametes, undergo meiosis, while somatic cells will undergo mitosis. After the cell proceeds successfully through the M phase, it may then undergo cell division through cytokinesis. The control of each checkpoint is controlled by cyclin and cyclin dependent kinases. The progression of interphase is the result of the increased amount of cyclin. As the amount of cyclin increases, more and more cyclin dependent kinases attach to cyclin signaling the cell further into interphase. The peak of the cyclin attached to the cyclin dependent kinases this system pushes the cell out of interphase and into the M phase, where mitosis, meiosis, and cytokinesis occur. There are three transition checkpoints the cell goes through before entering the M phase. The most important being the G1-S transition checkpoint. If the cell does not pass this phase, then the cell will most likely not go through the rest of the cell division cycle.


Prophase is the first stage of division. The nuclear envelope is broken down, long strands of chromatin condense to form shorter more visible strands called chromosomes, the nucleolus disappears, and microtubules attach to the chromosomes at the kinetochores present in the centromere.[7] Microtubules associated with the alignment and separation of chromosomes are referred to as the spindle and spindle fibers. Chromosomes will also be visible under a microscope and will be connected at the centromere. During this condensation and alignment period, homologous over.


In metaphase, the centromeres of the chromosomes convene themselves on the metaphase plate (or equatorial plate), an imaginary line that is equidistant from the two centrosome poles. Chromosomes line up in the middle of the cell by MTOCs ( microtubule organizing center) by pushing and pulling on centromeres of both chromatids which causes the chromosome to move to the center. The chromosomes are still condensing and are currently at one step away from being the most coiled and condensed they will be.[8] Spindle fibres have already connected to the kinetochores. At this point, the chromosomes are ready to split into opposite poles of the cell towards the spindle to which they are connected. [9]


Anaphase is a very short stage of the cell cycle and occurs after the chromosomes align at the mitotic plate. After the chromosomes line up in the middle of the cell, the spindle fibers will pull them apart. The chromosomes are split apart as the sister chromatids move to opposite sides of the cell.[10]While the sister chromatids are being pulled apart cell, and plasma gets elongated from non-kinetochore microtubules[11]


Telophase is the last stage of the cell cycle.A cleavage furrow splits the cell in two. These two cells from around the chromatin at the two poles of the cell.[12] Two nuclear membranes begin to reform and the chromatin begin to unwind.[13]


Image of the mitotic spindle in a human cell showing microtubules in green, chromosomes (DNA) in blue, and kinetochores in red.

Cells are broadly classified into two main categories: simple, non-nucleated prokaryotic cells, and complex, nucleated eukaryotic cells. Owing to their structural differences, eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells do not divide in the same way. Also, the pattern of cell division that transforms eukaryotic stem cells into gametes (sperm cells in males or egg cells in females), termed meiosis, is different from that of the division of somatic cells in the body.

Time-lapse video of dividing cells
Cell division over 42. The cells were directly imaged in the cell culture vessel, using non-invasive quantitative phase contrast time-lapse microscopy.[14]


Multicellular organisms replace worn-out cells through cell division. In some animals, however, cell division eventually halts. In humans this occurs, on average, after 52 divisions, known as the Hayflick limit. The cell is then referred to as senescent. Cells stop dividing because the telomeres, protective bits of DNA on the end of a chromosome required for replication, shorten with each copy, eventually being consumed. Cancer cells, on the other hand, are not thought to degrade in this way, if at all. An enzyme called telomerase, present in large quantities in cancerous cells, rebuilds the telomeres, allowing division to continue indefinitely.


1943 Device for micro-cinematography- under the direction of Kurt Michel, the first film on cell division is produced in a Zeiss laboratory with the aid of a phase-contrast microscope (6892933110)
Kurt Michel with his phase-contrast microscope

A cell division under microscope was first discovered by German botanist Hugo von Mohl in 1835 as he worked over Green algae Cladophora glomerata.[15]

In 1943, cell division was filmed for the first time[16] by Kurt Michel using a phase-contrast microscope.[17]

See also


  1. ^ Robert.S Hine, ed. (2008). Oxford Dictionary Biology (6th ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. p. 113. ISBN 978-0-19-920462-5.
  2. ^ Griffiths, Anthony J.F.; Wessler, Susan R.; Carroll, Sean B.; Doebley, John (2012). Introduction to Genetic Analysis (10 ed.). New York: W.H. Freeman and Company. p. 35. ISBN 978-1-4292-2943-2.
  3. ^ Maton, Anthea (1997). Cells: Building Blocks of Life. New Jersey: Prentice Hall. pp. 70–74. ISBN 978-0-13-423476-2.
  4. ^ Quammen, David (April 2008). "Contagious cancer: The evolution of a killer". Harper's. 316 (1895): 42. Retrieved 24 September 2012.
  5. ^ Krylov, Mikhail C. (2010). Cell Division: Theory, Variants, and Degradation. New York: Nova Science Publishers, Inc. p. 137. ISBN 9781608769865.
  6. ^ Marieb, Elaine (2000). Essentials of human anatomy and physiology. San Francisco: Benjamin Cummings. ISBN 978-0-8053-4940-5.
  7. ^ Schermelleh, Lothar; Carlton, Peter M.; Haase, Sebastian; Shao, Lin; Winoto, Lukman; Kner, Peter; Burke, Brian; Cardoso, M. Cristin; Agard, David A. (2008-06-06). "Subdiffraction Multicolor Imaging of the Nuclear Periphery with 3D Structured Illumination Microscopy". Science. 320 (5881): 1332–1336. doi:10.1126/science.1156947. ISSN 0036-8075. PMC 2916659. PMID 18535242.
  8. ^ "Researchers Shed Light On Shrinking Of Chromosomes". ScienceDaily. June 12, 2007. Retrieved 2017-02-02.
  9. ^ Elrod, Susan (2002). Schaum's Outline of Genetics (Fifth ed.). United States of America: McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. p. 8. ISBN 9780071625036.
  10. ^ "The Cell Cycle". www.biology-pages.info. Retrieved 2017-02-02.
  11. ^ "Campbell Biology in Focus. By Lisa A. Urry, Michael L. Cain, Steven A. Wasserman, Peter V. Minorsky, Robert B. Jackson, and Jane B. Reece. Boston (Massachusetts): Pearson. $146.67. xxxix + 905 p.; ill. + A-1 - A-34; B-1; C-1; D-1; E-1 - E-2; F-1 - F-3; CR-1 - CR-6; G-1 - G-34; I-1 - I-48 (index). ISBN: 978-0-321-81380-0. 2014". The Quarterly Review of Biology. 88 (3): 242. September 2013. doi:10.1086/671541. ISSN 0033-5770.
  12. ^ Dekker, Job (2014). "Two ways to fold the genome during the cell cycle: insights obtained with chromosome conformation capture". Epigenetics & Chromatin. 7 (1): 25. doi:10.1186/1756-8935-7-25. ISSN 1756-8935. PMID 25435919.
  13. ^ Hetzer, Martin W. (2017-02-02). "The Nuclear Envelope". Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Biology. 2 (3): a000539. doi:10.1101/cshperspect.a000539. ISSN 1943-0264. PMC 2829960. PMID 20300205.
  14. ^ Phase Holographic Imaging. Cell Division
  15. ^ Karl Mägdefrau (1994), "Mohl, Hugo von", Neue Deutsche Biographie (NDB) (in German), 17, Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, pp. 690–691; (full text online)
  16. ^ Masters, Barry R (2008). "History of the Optical Microscope in Cell Biology and Medicine" (PDF). eLS (formerly Encyclopedia of Life Sciences). John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. p. 3. doi:10.1002/9780470015902.a0003082. ISBN 9780470015902.
  17. ^ Video on YouTube

Further reading

External links


An antimetabolite is a chemical that inhibits the use of a metabolite, which is another chemical that is part of normal metabolism. Such substances are often similar in structure to the metabolite that they interfere with, such as the antifolates that interfere with the use of folic acid; thus, competitive inhibition can occur, and the presence of antimetabolites can have toxic effects on cells, such as halting cell growth and cell division, so these compounds are used as chemotherapy for cancer.


Budding is a type of asexual reproduction in which a new organism develops from an outgrowth or bud due to cell division at one particular site. The small bulb like projection coming out from the yeast cell is called a bud. The new organism remains attached as it grows, separating from the parent organism only when it is mature, leaving behind scar tissue. Since the reproduction is asexual, the newly created organism is a clone and is genetically identical to the parent organism.

Organisms such as hydra use regenerative cells for reproduction in the process of budding.

In hydra, a bud develops as an outgrowth due to repeated cell division at one specific site. These buds develop into tiny individuals and, when fully mature, detach from the parent body and become new independent individuals.

Internal budding or endodyogeny is a process of asexual reproduction, favoured by parasites such as Toxoplasma gondii. It involves an unusual process in which two daughter cells are produced inside a mother cell, which is then consumed by the offspring prior to their separation.Endopolygeny is the division into several organisms at once by internal budding.


Carbacephems are a class of synthetic antibiotics, based on the structure of cephalosporin, a cephem. Carbacephems are similar to cephems, but with a carbon substituted for the sulfur.It prevents bacterial cell division by inhibiting cell wall synthesis.

Cell cycle

The cell cycle, or cell-division cycle, is the series of events that take place in a cell leading to duplication of its DNA (DNA replication) and division of cytoplasm and organelles to produce two daughter cells. In bacteria, which lack a cell nucleus, the cell cycle is divided into the B, C, and D periods. The B period extends from the end of cell division to the beginning of DNA replication. DNA replication occurs during the C period. The D period refers to the stage between the end of DNA replication and the splitting of the bacterial cell into two daughter cells. In cells with a nucleus, as in eukaryotes, the cell cycle is also divided into two main stages: interphase and the mitotic (M) phase (including mitosis and cytokinesis). During interphase, the cell grows, accumulating nutrients needed for mitosis, and undergoes DNA replication preparing it for cell division. During the mitotic phase, the replicated chromosomes and cytoplasm separate into two new daughter cells. To ensure the proper division of the cell, there are control mechanisms known as cell cycle checkpoints.

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 which hair, skin, blood cells, and some internal organs are renewed. After cell division, each of the daughter cells begin the interphase of a new cycle. Although the various stages of interphase are not usually morphologically distinguishable, each phase of the cell cycle has a distinct set of specialized biochemical processes that prepare the cell for initiation of cell division.

Cell division cycle 7-related protein kinase

Cell division cycle 7-related protein kinase is an enzyme that in humans is encoded by the CDC7 gene. The Cdc7 kinase is involved in regulation of the cell cycle at the point of chromosomal DNA replication. The gene CDC7 appears to be conserved throughout eukaryotic evolution; this means that most eukaryotic cells have the Cdc7 kinase protein.

Cell growth

The term cell growth is used in the contexts of biological cell development and cell division (reproduction). When used in the context of cell development, the term refers to increase in cytoplasmic and organelle volume (G1 phase), as well as increase in genetic material (G2 phase) following the replication during S phase.growth|.

This is not to be confused with growth in the context of cell division, referred to as proliferation, where a cell, known as the "mother cell", grows and divides to produce two "daughter cells" (M phase).


In cell biology a centriole is a cylindrical organelle composed mainly of a protein called tubulin. Centrioles are found in most eukaryotic cells. A bound pair of centrioles, surrounded by a shapeless mass of dense material, called the pericentriolar material (PCM), makes up a structure called a centrosome.Centrioles are present in the cells of most eukaryotes, for example those of animals. However, they are absent from conifers (pinophyta), flowering plants (angiosperms) and most fungi, and are only present in the male gametes of charophytes, bryophytes, seedless vascular plants, cycads, and ginkgo.Centrioles are typically made up of nine sets of short microtubule triplets, arranged in a cylinder. Deviations from this structure include crabs and Drosophila melanogaster embryos, with nine doublets, and Caenorhabditis elegans sperm cells and early embryos, with nine singlets.

The main function of centrioles is to produce cilia during interphase and the aster and the spindle during cell division.


A chromosome is a deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) molecule with part or all of the genetic material (genome) of an organism. Most eukaryotic chromosomes include packaging proteins which, aided by chaperone proteins, bind to and condense the DNA molecule to prevent it from becoming an unmanageable tangle.Chromosomes are normally visible under a light microscope only when the cell is undergoing the metaphase of cell division (where all chromosomes are aligned in the center of the cell in their condensed form). Before this happens, every chromosome is copied once (S phase), and the copy is joined to the original by a centromere, resulting either in an X-shaped structure (pictured to the right) if the centromere is located in the middle of the chromosome or a two-arm structure if the centromere is located near one of the ends. The original chromosome and the copy are now called sister chromatids. During metaphase the X-shape structure is called a metaphase chromosome. In this highly condensed form chromosomes are easiest to distinguish and study. In animal cells, chromosomes reach their highest compaction level in anaphase during chromosome segregation.Chromosomal recombination during meiosis and subsequent sexual reproduction play a significant role in genetic diversity. If these structures are manipulated incorrectly, through processes known as chromosomal instability and translocation, the cell may undergo mitotic catastrophe and die. Mutations in the cell can allow it to inappropriately evade apoptosis and lead to the progression of cancer.

Some use the term chromosome in a wider sense, to refer to the individualized portions of chromatin in cells, either visible or not under light microscopy. Others use the concept in a narrower sense, to refer to the individualized portions of chromatin during cell division, visible under light microscopy due to high condensation.


FtsZ is a protein encoded by the ftsZ gene that assembles into a ring at the future site of the septum of bacterial cell division. This is a prokaryotic homologue to the eukaryotic protein tubulin. FtsZ has been named after "Filamenting temperature-sensitive mutant Z". The hypothesis was that cell division mutants of E. coli would grow as filaments due to the inability of the daughter cells to separate from one another.


A hypha (plural hyphae, from Greek ὑφή, huphḗ, "web") is a long, branching filamentous structure of a fungus, oomycete, or actinobacterium. In most fungi, hyphae are the main mode of vegetative growth, and are collectively called a mycelium.


Interphase is the phase of the cell cycle in which a typical cell spends most of its life.

During this phase, the cell copies its DNA in preparation for mitosis. Interphase is the 'daily living' or metabolic phase of the cell, in which the cell obtains nutrients and metabolizes them, grows, reads its DNA, and conducts other "normal" cell functions. The majority of eukaryotic cells spend most of their time in interphase. This phase was formerly called the resting phase. However, interphase does not describe a cell that is merely resting; rather, the cell is living, and preparing for later cell division, so the name was changed. A common misconception is that interphase is the first stage of mitosis. However, since mitosis is the division of the nucleus, prophase is actually the first stage.In interphase, the cell gets itself ready for mitosis or meiosis. Somatic cells, or normal diploid cells of the body, go through mitosis in order to reproduce themselves through cell division, whereas diploid germ cells (i.e., primary spermatocytes and primary oocytes) go through meiosis in order to create haploid gametes (i.e., sperm and ova) for the purpose of sexual reproduction. Chromosomes are copied.


In cell biology, mitosis () is a part of the cell cycle when replicated chromosomes are separated into two new nuclei. Cell division gives rise to genetically identical cells in which the number of chromosomes is maintained. In general, mitosis (division of the nucleus) is preceded by the S stage of interphase (during which the DNA is replicated) and is often accompanied or followed by cytokinesis, which divides the cytoplasm, organelles and cell membrane into two new cells containing roughly equal shares of these cellular components. Mitosis and cytokinesis together define the mitotic (M) phase of an animal cell cycle—the division of the mother cell into two daughter cells genetically identical to each other.

The process of mitosis is divided into stages corresponding to the completion of one set of activities and the start of the next. These stages are prophase, prometaphase, metaphase, anaphase, and telophase. During mitosis, the chromosomes, which have already duplicated, condense and attach to spindle fibers that pull one copy of each chromosome to opposite sides of the cell. The result is two genetically identical daughter nuclei. The rest of the cell may then continue to divide by cytokinesis to produce two daughter cells. Producing three or more daughter cells instead of the normal two is a mitotic error called tripolar mitosis or multipolar mitosis (direct cell triplication / multiplication). Other errors during mitosis can induce apoptosis (programmed cell death) or cause mutations. Certain types of cancer can arise from such mutations.Mitosis occurs only in eukaryotic cells. Prokaryotic cells, which lack a nucleus, divide by a different process called binary fission. Mitosis varies between organisms. For example, animal cells undergo an "open" mitosis, where the nuclear envelope breaks down before the chromosomes separate, whereas fungi undergo a "closed" mitosis, where chromosomes divide within an intact cell nucleus. Most animal cells undergo a shape change, known as mitotic cell rounding, to adopt a near spherical morphology at the start of mitosis. Most human cells are produced by mitotic cell division. Important exceptions include the gametes – sperm and egg cells – which are produced by meiosis.

Mitotic catastrophe

Mitotic catastrophe refers to a mechanism of delayed mitosis-linked cell death, a sequence of events resulting from premature or inappropriate entry of cells into mitosis that can be caused by chemical or physical stresses. Mitotic catastrophe is unrelated to programmed cell death or apoptosis and is observed in cells lacking functional apoptotic pathways. It has been observed following delayed DNA damage induced by ionizing radiation. It can also be triggered by agents influencing the stability of microtubule spindles, various anticancer drugs and mitotic failure caused by defective cell cycle checkpoints. Mitotic catastrophe is the primary mechanism underlying reproductive cell death in cancer cells treated with ionizing radiation.Not all cells die immediately following abnormal mitosis caused by mitotic catastrophe, but many do. Cells that do not immediately die are likely to create aneuploid cells following subsequent attempts at cell division posing a risk of oncogenesis (i.e. potentially leading to cancer). A very small fraction of these aneuploid cells produced by mitotic catastrophe might later reduce DNA ploidy by reductive division involving meiotic cell division pathways.

Mitotic inhibitor

A mitotic inhibitor is a drug that inhibits mitosis, or cell division. These drugs disrupt microtubules, which are structures that pull the chromosomes apart when a cell divides. Mitotic inhibitors are used in cancer treatment, because cancer cells are able to grow and eventually spread through the body (metastasize) through continuous mitotic division. Thus, cancer cells are more sensitive to inhibition of mitosis than normal cells. Mitotic inhibitors are also used in cytogenetics (the study of chromosomes), where they stop cell division at a stage where chromosomes can be easily examined.Mitotic inhibitors are derived from natural substances such as plant alkaloids, and prevent cells from undergoing mitosis by disrupting microtubule polymerization, thus preventing cancerous growth. Microtubules are long, ropelike proteins that extend through the cell and move cellular components around. Microtubules are long polymers made of smaller units (monomers) of the protein tubulin. Microtubules are created during normal cell functions by assembling (polymerizing) tubulin components, and are disassembled when they are no longer needed. One of the important functions of microtubules is to move and separate chromosomes and other components of the cell for cell division (mitosis). Mitotic inhibitors interfere with the assembly and disassembly of tubulin into microtubule polymers. This interrupts cell division, usually during the mitosis (M) phase of the cell cycle when two sets of fully formed chromosomes are supposed to separate into daughter cells.Examples of mitotic inhibitors frequently used in the treatment of cancer include paclitaxel, docetaxel, vinblastine, vincristine, and vinorelbine.Colchicine and griseofulvin are mitotic inhibitors used in the treatment of gout and toenail fungus, respectively.


Nimotuzumab (h-R3, BIOMAb EGFR, Biocon, India; TheraCIM, CIMYM Biosciences, Canada; Theraloc, Oncoscience, Europe, CIMAher, Center of Molecular Immunology, Havana, Cuba) is a humanized monoclonal antibody that as of 2014 had orphan status in the US and EU for glioma, and marketing approval in India, China, and other countries for squamous cell carcinomas of the head and neck, and was undergoing several clinical trials.

Like cetuximab, nimotuzumab binds to the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), a signalling protein that normally controls cell division. In some cancers, this receptor is altered to cause uncontrolled cell division, a hallmark of cancer. These monoclonal antibodies block EGFR and stop the uncontrolled cell division.

It has a humanized human-mouse h-R3 heavy chain and a humanized human-mouse h-R3 κ-chain.

Nuclear DNA

Nuclear DNA (nDNA), or nuclear deoxyribonucleic acid, is the DNA contained within each cell nucleus of a eukaryotic organism. Nuclear DNA encodes for the majority of the genome in eukaryotes, with mitochondrial DNA and plastid DNA coding for the rest. Nuclear DNA adheres to Mendelian inheritance, with information coming from two parents, one male and one female, rather than matrilineally (through the mother) as in mitochondrial DNA.


Partitiviridae is a family of viruses. Fungi and plants serve as natural hosts. There are currently 60 species in this family, divided among 5 genera or unassigned to a genus. The family name comes from the Latin partitius which means divided and they are called this as they have segmented genomes.

Secondary growth

In botany, secondary growth is the growth that results from cell division in the cambia or lateral meristems and that causes the stems and roots to thicken, while primary growth is growth that occurs as a result of cell division at the tips of stems and roots, causing them to elongate, and gives rise to primary tissue. Secondary growth occurs in most seed plants, but monocots usually lack secondary growth. If they do have secondary growth, it differs from the typical pattern of other seed plants.

The formation of secondary vascular tissues from the cambium is a characteristic feature of dicotyledons and gymnosperms. In certain monocots, the vascular tissues are also increased after the primary growth is completed but the cambium of these plants is of a different nature. In the living Pteridophytes this feature is rare but occurs in plants like Isoetes and Botrychium.

Spindle poison

A spindle poison, also known as a spindle toxin, is a poison that disrupts cell division by affecting the protein threads that connect the centromere regions of chromosomes, known as spindles. Spindle poisons effectively cease the production of new cells by interrupting the mitosis phase of cell division at the spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC). However, as numerous and varied as they are, spindle poisons are not yet 100% effective at ending the formation of tumors (neoplasms). Although not 100% effective, substantive therapeutic efficacy has been found in these types of chemotherapeutic treatments. The mitotic spindle is composed of microtubules (polymerized tubulin) that aid, along with regulatory proteins; each other in the activity of appropriately segregating replicated chromosomes. Certain compounds affecting the mitotic spindle have proven highly effective against solid tumors and hematological malignancies.

Two specific families of antimitotic agents — vinca alkaloids and taxanes — interrupt the cell’s division by the agitation of microtubule dynamics. The vinca alkaloids work by causing the inhibition of the polymerization of tubulin into microtubules, resulting in the G2/M arrest within the cell cycle and eventually cell death. In contrast, the taxanes arrest the mitotic cell cycle by stabilizing microtubules against depolymerization. Even though numerous other spindle proteins exist that could be the target of novel chemotherapeutics, tubulin-binding agents are the only types in clinical use. Agents that affect the motor proteinkinesin are beginning to enter clinical trials. Another type, paclitaxel, acts by attaching to tubulin within existing microtubules. Next, it stabilizes the polymer.

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