Comparative analysis of cytokinesis in budding yeast, fission yeast and animal cells

Curr Biol. 2004 Sep 21;14(18):R806-18. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2004.09.022.


Cytokinesis is a temporally and spatially regulated process through which the cellular constituents of the mother cell are partitioned into two daughter cells, permitting an increase in cell number. When cytokinesis occurs in a polarized cell it can create daughters with distinct fates. In eukaryotes, cytokinesis is carried out by the coordinated action of a cortical actomyosin contractile ring and targeted membrane deposition. Recent use of model organisms with facile genetics and improved light-microscopy methods has led to the identification and functional characterization of many proteins involved in cytokinesis. To date, this analysis indicates that some of the basic components involved in cytokinesis are conserved from yeast to humans, although their organization into functional machinery that drives cytokinesis and the associated regulatory mechanisms bear species-specific features. Here, we briefly review the current status of knowledge of cytokinesis in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe and animal cells, in an attempt to highlight both the common and the unique features. Although these organisms diverged from a common ancestor about a billion years ago, there are eukaryotes that are far more divergent. To evaluate the overall evolutionary conservation of cytokinesis, it will be necessary to include representatives of these divergent branches. Nevertheless, the three species discussed here provide substantial mechanistic diversity.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / physiology*
  • Cell Membrane / physiology
  • Cytokinesis / physiology*
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / physiology
  • Eukaryotic Cells / physiology*
  • Genes, cdc / physiology
  • Models, Biological*
  • Myosin Type II / physiology
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae
  • Schizosaccharomyces


  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • Myosin Type II