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Glossary

Cell Division

Cell division (cytokinesis, from ancient Greek kytos = cell and kinesis = movement) is the biological process of the division of a cell. The plasma and other constituents of the parent cell are divided among the daughter cells by forming cell membranes between them. This usually creates two, sometimes more daughter cells. Cell division is preceded by mitosis in most cases in eukaryotic cells that have a nucleus. However, cell and nuclear divisions can also take place independently, e.g. at the endoreplication. Nuclear division (karyokinesis) is therefore distinguished from cell division (cytokinesis). Cell division is highly regulated because daughter cells in many eukaryotes must receive copies of all essential cell components. In particular, it must be ensured that the genome is completely replicated. Cell division and nuclear division (mitosis or meiosis) in eukaryotes are usually temporally and regulatory coupled. Cell division can already be initiated while nuclear division is still in progress. Core and cell division are collectively referred to as the cell cycle. Cells that are within the cell cycle, in which cell growth and cell division continually alternate, are called proliferating. The division rate, which indicates the number of cell divisions per unit of time, is a specific size for each cell type. In unicellular organisms, the time period between two divisions corresponds to the generation time. Eukaryotic cells that do not divide after differentiation – such as neurons – are called post-mitotic. Examples of cell divisions that are not part of the normal cell cycle are budding and schizogony.
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