Modelling chromosome dynamics in mitosis: a historical perspective on models of metaphase and anaphase in eukaryotic cells

Interface Focus. 2014 Jun 6;4(3):20130073. doi: 10.1098/rsfs.2013.0073.


Mitosis is the process by which the genome is segregated to form two identical daughter cells during cell division. The process of cell division is essential to the maintenance of every form of life. However, a detailed quantitative understanding of mitosis has been difficult owing to the complexity of the process. Indeed, it has been long recognized that, because of the complexity of the molecules involved, their dynamics and their properties, the mitotic events that mediate the segregation of the genome into daughter nuclei cannot be fully understood without the contribution of mathematical/quantitative modelling. Here, we provide an overview of mitosis and describe the dynamic and mechanical properties of the mitotic apparatus. We then discuss several quantitative models that emerged in the past decades and made an impact on our understanding of specific aspects of mitosis, including the motility of the chromosomes within the mitotic spindle during metaphase and anaphase, the maintenance of spindle length during metaphase and the switch to spindle elongation that occurs during anaphase.

Keywords: chromosome; kinetochore; microtubule; mitosis; mitotic apparatus; mitotic spindle.

Publication types

  • Review