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This illustration shows the three major checkpoints of the cell cycle: G_{1}, G_{2}, and M.
The cell cycle is controlled at three checkpoints. The integrity of the DNA is assessed at the G 1 checkpoint. Proper chromosome duplication is assessed at the G 2 checkpoint. Attachment of each kinetochore to a spindle fiber is assessed at the M checkpoint.

The g 1 Checkpoint

The G 1 checkpoint determines whether all conditions are favorable for cell division to proceed. The G 1 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 G 1 checkpoint. In addition to adequate reserves and cell size, there is a check for genomic DNA damage at the G 1 checkpoint. A cell that does not meet all the requirements will not be allowed to progress into the S phase. The cell can halt the cycle and attempt to remedy the problematic condition, or the cell can advance into G 0 and await further signals when conditions improve.

The g 2 Checkpoint

The G 2 checkpoint bars entry into the mitotic phase if certain conditions are not met. As at the G 1 checkpoint, cell size and protein reserves are assessed. However, the most important role of the G 2 checkpoint is to ensure that all of the chromosomes have been replicated and that the replicated DNA is not damaged. 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.

The m checkpoint

The M checkpoint occurs near the end of the metaphase stage of karyokinesis. 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.

Watch what occurs at the G 1 , G 2 , and M checkpoints by visiting this website to see an animation of the cell cycle.

Regulator molecules of the cell cycle

In addition to the internally controlled checkpoints, there are two groups of intracellular molecules that regulate the cell cycle. These regulatory molecules either promote progress of the cell to the next phase (positive regulation) or halt the cycle (negative regulation). Regulator molecules may act individually, or they can influence the activity or production of other regulatory proteins. Therefore, the failure of a single regulator may have almost no effect on the cell cycle, especially if more than one mechanism controls the same event. Conversely, the effect of a deficient or non-functioning regulator can be wide-ranging and possibly fatal to the cell if multiple processes are affected.

Positive regulation of the cell cycle

Two groups of proteins, called cyclins and cyclin-dependent kinases (Cdks), are responsible for the progress of the cell through the various checkpoints. The levels of the four cyclin proteins fluctuate throughout the cell cycle in a predictable pattern ( [link] ). Increases in the concentration of cyclin proteins are triggered by both external and internal signals. After the cell moves to the next stage of the cell cycle, the cyclins that were active in the previous stage are degraded.

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Source:  OpenStax, Cell biology. OpenStax CNX. Jan 04, 2014 Download for free at https://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11570/1.3
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