The spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC) maintains genomic integrity by preventing progression of mitotic cell division until all chromosomes are stably attached to spindle microtubules. The SAC critically relies on the paralogs Bub1 and BubR1/Mad3, which integrate kinetochore-spindle attachment status with generation of the anaphase inhibitory complex MCC. We previously reported on the widespread occurrences of independent gene duplications of an ancestral MadBub gene in eukaryotic evolution and the striking parallel subfunctionalization that lead to loss of kinase function in BubR1/Mad3-like paralogs. We now present an elaborate subfunctionalization analysis that includes all known motifs in Bub1 and BubR1, and show that ancestral features are consistently retained in the same functional paralog: GLEBS/CDI/CDII/kinase in the Bub1-like and KEN1/KEN2/D-Box in the BubR1/Mad3-like. The recently described ABBA motif can be found in either or both paralogs. We however discovered two additional ABBA motifs that flank KEN2. This cassette of ABBA1-KEN2-ABBA2 forms a strictly conserved module in all ancestral and BubR1/Mad3-like proteins, suggestive of a specific and crucial SAC function. Indeed, deletion of the ABBA motifs in human BUBR1 abrogates the SAC and affects APC/C-Cdc20 interactions. Our detailed comparative genomics analyses thus enabled discovery of a conserved cassette of motifs essential for the SAC and shows how this approach can be used to uncover hitherto unrecognized functional protein features.