We present evidence for the essential homology of four nuclear organelles that have previously been described under four different names: coiled bodies in mammalian somatic nuclei, prenucleolar bodies in nuclei assembled in vitro in Xenopus egg extract, sphere organelles in amphibian germinal vesicles (GVs), and Binnenkörper in insect GVs. Each of these organelles contains coilin or a coilin-related protein plus a variety of small nuclear ribonucleoproteins. We suggest that the sphere organelle/coiled body is a "universal" nuclear component in the sense that it is involved in common nuclear processes and hence will be found in one form or another in most eukaryotic cells. We postulate that it functions in the assembly and sorting of snRNP complexes for three RNA processing pathways: pre-mRNA splicing, rRNA processing, and histone pre-mRNA 3' end formation. Specifically, the sphere organelle/coiled body may be the initial site for assembly of processing complexes, which are then sorted to other places in the nucleus, where the actual RNA processing takes place.