Cleavage Furrow Formation: A Critical Process in Cell Division


Cell division is a fundamental process in which a parent cell divides into two or more daughter cells. One crucial step in cell division is the formation of a cleavage furrow, which plays a vital role in separating the parent cell into two daughter cells. In this article, we will explore the definition and process of cleavage furrow formation during cell division, shedding light on the intricate mechanisms that ensure accurate cell division and the maintenance of cellular integrity.

Definition of Cleavage Furrow

A cleavage furrow is a shallow groove that forms on the cell surface during cytokinesis, the final stage of cell division. It marks the site where the parent cell will physically divide into two daughter cells. The cleavage furrow is responsible for the separation of the cytoplasm and the division of cellular components between the daughter cells.

Process of Cleavage Furrow Formation

The formation of a cleavage furrow involves a series of coordinated events that ensure the precise division of the parent cell. The process can be divided into several key steps:

1. Initiation

Cleavage furrow formation begins during late anaphase or early telophase, following the segregation of the duplicated chromosomes to opposite ends of the cell. At this stage, a contractile ring composed of actin filaments and myosin motor proteins begins to assemble at the equatorial region of the cell, perpendicular to the axis of cell division.

2. Contraction

Once the contractile ring is assembled, it contracts, causing the cleavage furrow to deepen. The contraction is driven by the interaction between actin and myosin, similar to muscle contraction. The actin filaments slide past each other, pulling the plasma membrane inward and creating tension along the equatorial plane of the cell.

3. Membrane Ingrowth

As the contractile ring contracts, the plasma membrane invaginates into the cell, forming a furrow. The ingrowth of the membrane is facilitated by the fusion of vesicles containing membrane components, such as phospholipids and proteins, at the site of the cleavage furrow. This process ensures the extension of the furrow towards the center of the cell.

4. Furrow Deepening

The contractile ring continues to contract, causing the cleavage furrow to deepen further. The actin filaments and myosin motor proteins generate the force necessary for the furrow to penetrate deeper into the cell. This deepening process continues until the furrow reaches the point of complete separation, resulting in the formation of two separate daughter cells.

5. Completion of Cytokinesis

Once the cleavage furrow has fully penetrated the cell, the final stage of cytokinesis occurs. The parent cell is divided into two daughter cells, each containing a complete set of genetic material and cellular components. The division is accompanied by the formation of a new cell membrane and the reorganization of organelles to ensure the proper functioning of each daughter cell.


Cleavage furrow formation is a critical process in cell division, ensuring the accurate separation of the parent cell into two daughter cells. Through the coordinated actions of the contractile ring, actin filaments, myosin motor proteins, and membrane fusion, the cleavage furrow deepens and divides the cytoplasm, leading to the formation of two separate cells. Understanding the process of cleavage furrow formation provides insights into the mechanisms that govern cell division and the maintenance of cellular integrity.

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