Definition: The first stage of mitosis or meiosis, consisting of linear contraction and increase in thickness of the chromosomes (each composed of two chromatids) accompanied by migration of the two daughter centrioles and their asters toward the poles of the cell. In meiosis, prophase is complex and can be subdivided into stages: preleptotene, leptotene, zygotene, pachytene, diplotene, and diakinesis.
[G. prophasis, from prophaino, to foreshadow]
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