We have used time-lapse laser scanning confocal microscopy to directly examine microtubule reorganization during meiotic spindle assembly in living Drosophila oocytes. These studies indicate that the bipolarity of the meiosis I spindle is not the result of a duplication and separation of centrosomal microtubule organizing centers (MTOCs). Instead, microtubules first associate with a tight chromatin mass, and then bundle to form a bipolar spindle that lacks asters. Analysis of mutant oocytes indicates that the Non-Claret Disjunctional (NCD) kinesin-like protein is required for normal spindle assembly kinetics and stabilization of the spindle during metaphase arrest. Immunolocalization analyses demonstrate that NCD is associated with spindle microtubules, and that the centrosomal components gamma-tubulin, CP-190, and CP-60 are not concentrated at the meiotic spindle poles. Based on these observations, we propose that microtubule bundling by the NCD kinesin-like protein promotes assembly of a stable bipolar spindle in the absence of typical MTOCs.

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