Mechanisms underlying spindle assembly and robustness.
The microtubule-based spindle orchestrates chromosome segregation during cell division. Following more than a century of study, many components and pathways contributing to spindle assembly have been described, but how the spindle robustly assembles remains incompletely understood. This process involves the self-organization of a large number of molecular parts - up to hundreds of thousands in vertebrate cells - whose local interactions give rise to a cellular-scale structure with emergent architecture, mechanics and function. In this Review, we discuss key concepts in our understanding of spindle assembly, focusing on recent advances and the new approaches that enabled them. We describe the pathways that generate the microtubule framework of the spindle by driving microtubule nucleation in a spatially controlled fashion and present recent insights regarding the organization of individual microtubules into structural modules. Finally, we discuss the emergent properties of the spindle that enable robust chromosome segregation.