Molecular Mechanism of Cytokinesis

Annu Rev Biochem. 2019 Jun 20:88:661-689. doi: 10.1146/annurev-biochem-062917-012530. Epub 2019 Jan 16.


Division of amoebas, fungi, and animal cells into two daughter cells at the end of the cell cycle depends on a common set of ancient proteins, principally actin filaments and myosin-II motors. Anillin, formins, IQGAPs, and many other proteins regulate the assembly of the actin filaments into a contractile ring positioned between the daughter nuclei by different mechanisms in fungi and animal cells. Interactions of myosin-II with actin filaments produce force to assemble and then constrict the contractile ring to form a cleavage furrow. Contractile rings disassemble as they constrict. In some cases, knowledge about the numbers of participating proteins and their biochemical mechanisms has made it possible to formulate molecularly explicit mathematical models that reproduce the observed physical events during cytokinesis by computer simulations.

Keywords: actin; contractile ring; cytokinesis; mathematical models; myosin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Actins / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Cell Cycle
  • Cytokinesis*
  • Eukaryota / metabolism
  • Eukaryota / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Myosins / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Spindle Apparatus / metabolism*
  • Spindle Apparatus / physiology
  • Yeasts / metabolism
  • Yeasts / physiology


  • Actins
  • Myosins