Key Difference – Prophase vs Metaphase
Prophase is the first phase and metaphase is the second phase of the M phase in the cell cycle. The key difference between prophase and metaphase is that, in prophase, chromosomes condense and the spindle fibre forms while ,in metaphase, chromosomes line up in the centre of the cell and centromeres attach to the spindle fibres.
Cell cycle refers to the series of events happening in a cell till it produces new cells. Interphase, M phase and cytokinesis are three major phases of cell cycle. Mitotic phase or the M phase describes the nuclear division of the cell. M phase proceeds via four main phases namely prophase, metaphase, anaphase and telophase. Prophase is the first phase of M phase in which cell stops growth and starts to nuclear division. Prophase is followed by metaphase and during the metaphase homologous chromosomes are arranged in the centre of the cell (equatorial plate), and the spindle fibres are attached to the chromosomes at the centromeres.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Prophase
3. What is Metaphase
4. Similarities Between Prophase and Metaphase
5. Side by Side Comparison – Prophase vs Metaphase in Tabular Form
What is Prophase?
Prophase is one of the phases of mitotic phase of the meiosis and mitosis. It is the first phase in which cell starts its nuclear division. During the prophase, chromatin appears in a thick and condensed form. Chromatin converts into discrete chromosomes. Afterwards, sister chromatids of each chromosome appear.
Moreover, nuclear membrane breaks down, and spindle fibres form at two poles of the cell. The invisible genetic material becomes visible under the microscope during the prophase of the cell cycle. There is one prophase in mitosis while there are two prophases in meiosis.
What is Metaphase?
Metaphase is the second phase of the M phase. Metaphase starts at prophase, and it is followed by anaphase. During the metaphase, homologous chromosomes line up at the metaphase plate or the centre of the cell. Nuclear membrane disappears completely. Two pair of centrioles aligns at two poles. Spindle fibres extend from poles towards the chromosomes and attach to the centromeres of the chromosomes.
Metaphase is an important phase of the cell division. If the homologous chromosomes line up wrongly, daughter cells will receive an abnormal amount of chromosomes that can cause genetic disorders. Hence, the cell makes sure that the chromosomes are lined up properly, and spindle fibres are attached correctly with the centromeres.
What are the Similarities Between Prophase and Metaphase?
- Both prophase and metaphase are two phases of M phase of the cell cycle.
- Both phases can be seen in meiosis and mitosis.
- Both phases are vitally important for cell division.
- In both phases, the cell does not grow.
- There are two prophases and two metaphases in meiosis.
- There are one prophase and one metaphase in mitosis.
- In both phases, the nuclear membrane breaks.
What is the Difference Between Prophase and Metaphase?
Prophase vs Metaphase
|Prophase is the first phase of M phase in which chromatids condense, and sister chromatids appear, and spindle fibres form.||Metaphase is the second phase of the M phase in which chromosomes line up in the centre of the cell attaching to spindle fibres.|
|Prophase is followed by metaphase.||Metaphase is followed by anaphase.|
|During prophase, chromatin condenses into chromosomes, the nuclear envelope breaks down, and spindles form at opposite “poles” of the cell..||During the metaphase, spindle fully develops, and the chromosomes align at the metaphase plate, nuclear membrane disappears completely.|
|Order in the Cell Cycle|
|Prophase occurs between interphase and metaphase.||Metaphase occurs between prophase and anaphase.|
Summary – Prophase vs Metaphase
Cell division occurs via three major phases namely interphase, M phase and cytokinesis. During the interphase, cell prepares for the cell division by accumulating nutrients, synthesizing proteins and replicating the DNA. During the M phase, nuclear division occurs, and cytoplasm divides into two cells by creating two daughter cells. M phase proceeds via four phases namely prophase, metaphase, anaphase and telophase. Prophase is the first phase of M phase, and during the prophase, nuclear membrane starts to break, chromatin condenses into visible chromatids, spindle fibres form and chromosomes start to pair. Prophase is followed by metaphase, and during the metaphase, nuclear membrane completely breaks down, chromosomes align at the metaphase plate, and spindle fibres attach with centromeres of the chromosomes. Both phases are important phases of cell division. This is the difference between prophase and metaphase.
1.“Phases of Mitosis.” Khan Academy. Available here
2.“Mitosis.” Nature News, Nature Publishing Group. Available here
1.’Prophase’By Kelvinsong – Own work, (CC BY 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2.’Metaphase’By Kelvinsong – Own work, (CC BY 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
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