Animal cell cytokinesis

Annu Rev Cell Dev Biol. 2001;17:351-86. doi: 10.1146/annurev.cellbio.17.1.351.


Cytokinesis creates two daughter cells endowed with a complete set of chromosomes and cytoplasmic organelles. This conceptually simple event is mediated by a complex and dynamic interplay between the microtubules of the mitotic spindle, the actomyosin cytoskeleton, and membrane fusion events. For many decades the study of cytokinesis was driven by morphological studies on specimens amenable to physical manipulation. The studies led to great insights into the cellular structures that orchestrate cell division, but the underlying molecular machinery was largely unknown. Molecular and genetic approaches have now allowed the initial steps in the development of a molecular understanding of this fundamental event in the life of a cell. This review provides an overview of the literature on cytokinesis with a particular emphasis on the molecular pathways involved in the division of animal cells.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Actins / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Cell Division / physiology*
  • Cell Membrane / physiology
  • Centrosome / physiology
  • Dictyostelium / metabolism
  • Microtubules / physiology
  • Myosins / metabolism
  • Saccharomycetales / metabolism
  • Schizosaccharomyces / metabolism
  • Spindle Apparatus / chemistry
  • Spindle Apparatus / physiology
  • rho GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism


  • Actins
  • Myosins
  • rho GTP-Binding Proteins