Checkpoints: Controls that ensure the order of cell cycle events

Leland H. Hartwell, Ted A. Weinert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2577 Scopus citations


The events of the cell cycle of most organisms are ordered into dependent pathways in which the initiation of late events is dependent on the completion of early events. In eukaryotes, for example, mitosis is dependent on the completion of DNA synthesis. Some dependencies can be relieved by mutation (mitosis may then occur before completion of DNA synthesis), suggesting that the dependency is due to a control mechanism and not an intrinsic feature of the events themselves. Control mechanisms enforcing dependency in the cell cycle are here called checkpoints. Elimination of the checkpoints may result in cell death, infidelity in the distribution of chromosomes or other organelles, or increased susceptibility to environmental perturbations such as DNA damaging agents. It appears that some checkpoints are eliminated during the early embryonic development of some organisms; this fact may pose special problems for the fidelity of embryonic cell division.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)629-634
Number of pages6
Issue number4930
StatePublished - 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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