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What Are the Stages of Mitosis?

Lisa Stewart, Greg Chin
  • Author
    Lisa Stewart

    Lisa Stewart has taught high school biology and environmental science for over 5 years. She has a Master's Degree in Secondary Education from George Mason University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science from Virginia Tech.

  • Instructor
    Greg Chin
Stages of Mitosis. Learn about the steps of mitosis, including what occurs in the cell at each stage and the main differences between mitosis and meiosis. Updated: 07/07/2021

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The Stages of Mitosis: Overview

Mitosis is the process of cell division which ultimately results in two genetically identical daughter cells that have the same number of chromosomes. Mitosis occurs in all of an organism's body cells, also known as somatic cells.

Mitosis consists of five phases. The following lists the phases in the correct order:

  • Prophase
  • Prometaphase
  • Metaphase
  • Anaphase
  • Telophase

Mitosis Process and Importance

Mitosis is essential for organism growth and replacement of damaged and worn out cells. In single-celled organisms such as yeast, mitosis is a form of asexual reproduction and will add new individuals to a population.

It is important to note that Interphase and Cytokinesis are not on this list. Interphase is the stage that occurs before mitosis and is the part of the cell cycle that includes cell growth and replication of DNA. The cell is in interphase 90% of the time, making it the most prevalent stage at any one time. Cytokinesis is the division of the cytoplasm that begins during anaphase and ends after telophase. Cytokinesis results in the formation of two separate daughter cells. This lesson will focus specifically on the five phases of mitosis.

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  • 0:19 Mitosis Review
  • 1:26 Interphase
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The Sequence of Mitosis

Mitosis occurs in five stages that are in a specific order. In the following sections, there is a description of what occurs at each stage.

Prophase

Prior to this point in the cell cycle, the cell has grown and DNA has been replicated during interphase. In Interphase, the DNA is in an uncoiled form called chromatin. However, once it reaches prophase, the DNA begins to condense into chromosomes. The prefix 'pro' means before in Greek.

The following list summarizes what happens to the cell during early prophase:

  • The chromatin continues to condense into chromosomes, which makes them easier to pull apart later
  • The nucleolus (where ribosomes are made) disappears
  • The mitotic spindle, also known as spindle fibers, begin to form
  • Centrosomes duplicate and begin to move toward the spindle poles
  • Centrosome organization of the spindle apparatus occurs


Mitosis stage 1: Prophase

This image shows what occurs during prophase


Prometaphase

This phase has also been referred to as late prophase. This prefixes 'pro' and 'meta' in this phase mean before the middle, making it a precursor to metaphase. The following occurs during prometaphase:

  • The chromosomes continue to condense so they are fully visible and compact
  • The nuclear membrane breaks down and the nuclear envelope disappears allowing the chromosomes to move
  • The centrioles begin to move to opposite sides of the cell
  • The spindle fibers continue to grow and some of the microtubules begin to attach to the center of the chromosomes on a patch of protein called the kinetochore.
  • The spindle fibers that are not attached to the kinetochore will extend from the centrosome (or middle of the chromosome) to opposite poles


Mitosis Stage 2: Prometaphase

The image shows what occurs during prometaphase


Metaphase

The third stage of mitosis is called metaphase. During this phase, the chromosomes are aligned in the middle of the cell. Due to the fact that they are fully visible at this point, many scientists will study a map of an organisms chromosomes called a karyotype. The following occurs during this phase:

  • The chromosomes are now fully condensed
  • The duplicated chromosomes line up in the middle of the cell in an area known as the metaphase plate
  • Each chromosome has a spindle fiber attached to it and is getting ready to be separated
  • The microtubules and kinetochores will exert equal tension, which allow the chromosomes to stay in place.


Mitosis stage 3: Metaphase

The image shows what happens during metaphase


Anaphase

The fourth stage of mitosis is called Anaphase. The purpose of this stage is to separate the chromosomes, allowing each cell to have an identical set of chromosomes at the end of the cycle. The following occurs during this phase:

  • A protein called separase will cut a cohesin protein that keeps the centromeres together, which allows them to separate.
  • The chromosomes move to opposite poles in the cell
  • Polar microtubules and spindle microtubules physically interact in order to create the movement


Mitosis stage 4: Anaphase

The image shows what occurs during anaphase


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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the six stages of mitosis in order?

There are actually 4 main stages of mitosis and they are in the following order: prophase, metaphase, anaphase, and telophase. Sometimes, there is a 5th stage mentioned after prophase called prometaphase. Interphase and cytokinesis are part of the cell cycle, but are not included in the stages of mitosis.

What are the 4 phases of mitosis and what happens in each?

The 4 phases of mitosis are in the following order: Prophase, Metaphase, Anaphase and Telophase. In some academic texts, there are 5 phases that include prometaphase as a late prophase stage. During prophase, the nucleolus disappears, chromatin condenses into chromosomes, centrosomes separate, and a mitotic spindle forms. During metaphase, the chromosomes line up in the middle of the cell. During Anaphase, the chromosomes are pulled apart to opposite sides of the cell. In Telophase, a new nuclear envelope forms, chromosomes decondense into chromatin, and the nucleoli reappear

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