Difference Between Cell Cycle and Mitosis

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  • 0:01 What Is the Cell Cycle?
  • 1:23 What Is Mitosis?
  • 2:14 Differences
  • 3:32 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Amanda Robb

Amanda holds a Masters in Science from Tufts Medical School in Cellular and Molecular Physiology. She has taught high school Biology and Physics for 8 years.

In this lesson, we'll learn the definitions of the cell cycle and of mitosis and go over the different steps involved in each. We'll also take a look at what happens to our cells and our bodies when these processes go wrong.

What Is the Cell Cycle?

Think about your commute to work or school. You probably pass through some traffic lights on the way. If everything is ready, you get the green light to keep moving. If the other traffic still needs time to pass, you have to stop at a red light. You can think of the cell cycle in the same way.

The cell cycle is the series of steps, or phases, in a cell's life. Each cell in your body grows, doubles its DNA, and then divides in two to make more cells as needed. Some cells don't divide often, and it's like they have pulled off the road and parked near the red light. Let's look a little closer at the steps and what changes the traffic lights for a cell.

The cell cycle starts in a phase called G1. In G1, the cell is increasing in size and hanging out, doing its job. Some cells get the stop light here and enter a phase called G0, where they no longer divide, pulling off the road either for some time or permanently, depending on the cell.

Other cells need to duplicate their DNA in S Phase so they can get ready to make two new cells. After S phase comes G2, where the cell makes its final preparations to divide. After G2, the action happens in mitosis, or M phase, where the cell actually divides in two. So cell division is actually only a part of the whole cell cycle.

What Is Mitosis?

Now that we know the phases of the cell cycle, let's look a little at what happens during mitosis.

Mitosis has several stages of its own. Within each stage there are multiple mini-stages, but we'll focus on the big picture for this lesson. The first is prophase, where the coating on the nucleus dissolves and frees the DNA, which has condensed into chromosomes. The spindle fibers, or strings that will help separate the chromosomes, also start to form. In the next step, metaphase, the chromosomes line up at the middle with help from the spindle fibers. After metaphase comes anaphase, in which the spindle fibers start to reel in the chromosomes to either side of the cell like a fishing rod. In telophase, the large cell starts to pinch into two and the nuclei start to come back together. The last stage is cytokinesis where the cells actually split into two.

Cell division in mitosis
Mitosis phases

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