The cell cycle describes the stages of cell division. It is often depicted as a circle separated into segments with each segment representing a phases of the cycle.
There are 4 phases, plus one special state for resting cells.
Gap Phase One (G1)
This phase begins after the completion of cell division.
Cells increase in size and begin to synthesize RNA and protein in preparation for DNA replication.
Synthesis Phase (S)
The period* during which DNA is replicated.
Gap Phase 2 (G2)
Begins when DNA synthesis is complete.
Cell continues to grow until it has doubled in size and has enough cellular material for two cells.
The cell divides creating two daughter cells.
The diagram sometimes has an additional phase:
Resting Phase (G0)
Phase cells enter if they specialize for a specific task and no longer undergo cell division.
There are also checkpoints at different places along the cycle where the cellular machinery makes sure that certain conditions have been met before proceeding to subsequent phases of the cycle.
By showing growth during the cell cycle as a chart, we can see where different types of growth occur.
RNA and protein concentration*s increase throughout the gap one, synthesis, and gap two phases.
As a result, the amount of RNA and protein doubles from the beginning of G1 to the end of G2.
These amounts then drop back down as the cell divides during mitosis.
Contrast this with DNA which also doubles over the cycle.
But in the case of DNA, all synthesis occurs during the S Phase.
In a normal*ly dividing cell, the cycle begins at G1 right after it is formed by the division of its parent cell.
At the completion of mitosis, the nuclear membrane reforms around a single set of chromatid*s.
As the cell enters G1, the chromatids uncoil to facilitate DNA, RNA, and protein synthesis.
The cell increases in volume* as RNA, protein, and organelles are synthesized.
The proteins and enzymes required for DNA synthesis are made in anticipation of entering S Phase.
The primary checkpoint for the whole cell cycle occurs towards the end of G1.
Active growth during G1 signals that conditions are good for DNA replication.
Initiation of DNA replication marks the transition to S Phase.
Once the cell transitions from G1 to S, it is committed to cell division.
In S Phase all other cell functions continue - RNA concentration, protein concentration, and cell volume increases as the amount of DNA doubles.
Transition to G2 occurs at the completion of DNA synthesis.
In G2 the cell finishes doubling in size and synthesizes enough organelles and other cellular material to support two cells.
Cellular components begin to move to the proper side of the cell in anticipation of cell division. This includes the centriols which will pull sister chromatids to opposite sides of the cell during mitosis.
Towards the end of G2 the DNA re-condense to form characteristic x shaped chromosomes.
As the cell enters mitosis, the nuclear membrane breaks down, and the chromosomes line up in the middle of the cell.
Spindle fibers form between the centrioles and each chromosome.
As the cell begins to divide, one sister chromatid from each chromosome is pulled to one or the other side of the cell.
At the end of mitosis there are two cells each with half the cellular material of the parent cell.
Each cell contains one complete copy of the organisms DNA. The nuclear membrane reforms and the cycle starts again.