N115 mouse neuroblastoma cells possess a large number of microtubule organizing centers (MTOCs) which can be identified ultrastructurally as single centrioles. The distribution and activity of these organizing centers can be followed through all stages of the cell cycle by labeling microtubules with anti-tubulin and chromatin with the Hoechst dye, Bisbenzimid. We have found that multiple MTOCs persist and continue to organize microtubules during mitosis. They exhibit a well-defined sequence of movements, starting from a loose cluster during interphase, proceeding to a widely and evenly dispersed arrangement in prophase, gathering into small clusters and chains during prometaphase, and residing in two ring-shaped groups at the mitotic poles during metaphase and anaphase. Despite their large number of centrioles, virtually all N115 cells show a normal bipolar mitosis, but often with unequal numbers of centrioles at the two poles. Such observations bring into question the importance of the centriole in establishing bipolar division in this cell type.

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