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Biology LibreTexts

10.3B: Regulation of the Cell Cycle at Internal Checkpoints

  • Page ID
    13239
  • The cell cycle is controlled by three internal checkpoints that evaluate the condition of the genetic information.

    Learning Objectives

    • Explain the effects of internal checkpoints on the regulation of the cell cycle

    Key Points

    • A checkpoint is one of several points in the eukaryotic cell cycle at which the progression of a cell to the next stage in the cycle can be halted until conditions are favorable.
    • Damage to DNA and other external factors are evaluated at the G1 checkpoint; if conditions are inadequate, the cell will not be allowed to continue to the S phase of interphase.
    • The G2 checkpoint ensures all of the chromosomes have been replicated and that the replicated DNA is not damaged before cell enters mitosis.
    • The M checkpoint determines whether all the sister chromatids are correctly attached to the spindle microtubules before the cell enters the irreversible anaphase stage.

    Key Terms

    • restriction point: (G1 checkpoint) a point in the animal cell cycle at which the cell becomes “committed” to the cell cycle, which is determined by external factors and signals
    • spindle checkpoint: (M checkpoint) prevents separation of the duplicated chromosomes until each chromosome is properly attached to the spindle apparatus
    • cyclin: any of a group of proteins that regulates the cell cycle by forming a complex with kinases
    • G2 checkpoint: ensures all of the chromosomes have been replicated and that the replicated DNA is not damaged

    Regulation at Internal Checkpoints

    It is essential that the daughter cells are exact duplicates of the parent cell. Mistakes in the duplication or distribution of the chromosomes lead to mutations that may be passed forward to every new cell produced from an abnormal cell. To prevent a compromised cell from continuing to divide, internal control mechanisms operate at three main cell cycle checkpoints. A checkpoint is one of several points in the eukaryotic cell cycle at which the progression of a cell to the next stage in the cycle can be halted until conditions are favorable (e.g. the DNA is repaired). These checkpoints occur near the end of G1, at the G2/M transition, and during metaphase.

    image
    Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\): Internal Checkpoints During the Cell Cycle: The cell cycle is controlled at three checkpoints. The integrity of the DNA is assessed at the G1 checkpoint. Proper chromosome duplication is assessed at the G2 checkpoint. Attachment of each kinetochore to a spindle fiber is assessed at the M checkpoint.

    The G1 Checkpoint

    The G1 checkpoint determines whether all conditions are favorable for cell division to proceed. The G1 checkpoint, also called the restriction point (in yeast), is a point at which the cell irreversibly commits to the cell division process. External influences, such as growth factors, play a large role in carrying the cell past the G1 checkpoint. The cell will only pass the checkpoint if it is an appropriate size and has adequate energy reserves. At this point, the cell also checks for DNA damage. A cell that does not meet all the requirements will not progress to the S phase. The cell can halt the cycle and attempt to remedy the problematic condition, or the cell can advance into G0 (inactive) phase and await further signals when conditions improve.

    If a cell meets the requirements for the G1 checkpoint, the cell will enter S phase and begin DNA replication. This transition, as with all of the major checkpoint transitions in the cell cycle, is signaled by cyclins and cyclin dependent kinases (CDKs). Cyclins are cell-signaling molecules that regulate the cell cycle.

    The G2 Checkpoint

    The G2 checkpoint bars entry into the mitotic phase if certain conditions are not met. As with the G1 checkpoint, cell size and protein reserves are assessed. However, the most important role of the G2 checkpoint is to ensure that all of the chromosomes have been accurately replicated without mistakes or damage. If the checkpoint mechanisms detect problems with the DNA, the cell cycle is halted and the cell attempts to either complete DNA replication or repair the damaged DNA. If the DNA has been correctly replicated, cyclin dependent kinases (CDKs) signal the beginning of mitotic cell division.

    The M Checkpoint

    The M checkpoint occurs near the end of the metaphase stage of mitosis. The M checkpoint is also known as the spindle checkpoint because it determines whether all the sister chromatids are correctly attached to the spindle microtubules. Because the separation of the sister chromatids during anaphase is an irreversible step, the cycle will not proceed until the kinetochores of each pair of sister chromatids are firmly anchored to at least two spindle fibers arising from opposite poles of the cell.