Spindle poles are discernible by light microscopy as the sites where microtubules converge at the ends of both mitotic and meiotic spindles. In most cell types centrosomes are present at spindle poles due to their dominant role in microtubule nucleation. However, in some specialized cell types microtubules converge into spindle poles in the absence of centrosomes. Thus, spindle poles in centrosomal and acentrosomal cell types are structurally different, and it is this structural dichotomy that has created confusion as to the mechanism by which microtubules are organized into spindle poles. This review summarizes a series of recent articles that begin to resolve this confusion by demonstrating that spindle poles are organized through a common mechanism by a conserved group of non-centrosomal proteins in the presence or absence of centrosomes.

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