Magnesium as the fundamental regulator of the cell cycle

Graeme M. Walker, John H. Duffus

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    A hypothesis to account for the regulation of the eukaryotic cell cycle has been formulated in which free magnesium concentration acts as the fundamental transducer of cell size that correlates cell growth to mitosis and division. It is proposed that intracellular magnesium levels control the timing of spindle and chromosome cycles by varying periodically during the cell cycle. Thus, a gradual, volume-related fall in magnesium concentration during interphase which is terminated by rapid, transient fluxes at mitosis, is postulated to be necessary for triggering both microtubule breakdown and chromosome condensation. This general scheme, originally developed for the fission yeast, Schizosaccharomyces pombe, can be applied to higher cell division (including tumour cells) by assigning a central regulatory role for magnesium. For example, magnesium availability can be shown to form the mechanistic basis of many theoretical cell cycle models, and can also explain the effects of many proposed cell cycle regulators, including calcium and cyclic AMP.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-16
    Number of pages16
    Publication statusPublished - 1983


    • Magnesium
    • Cell cycle
    • Schizosaccharomyces pombe


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