negative staining - a method of preparation of samples for electron microscopy that reveals the structure of an object by virtue of the exclusion of a stain. With this method, the purified vault particle is covered with a stain that surrounds it and settles in surface depressions to reveal its unusual outline and contours. For example, if there was an invisible soccer ball, you could veveal its structure by throwing black paint over it. The paint would settle around the ball, defining the shape of the object and settle in the depressions of the ball revealing the pattern in the balls cover.
nuclear pore complexes (NPCs) - are very large (~125 MD) structures composed of 8 spokes mounted between a pair of asymmetric rings which span the outer and inner membranes of the nuclear envelope. A plug which may be lost during isolation of the NPC (or may be an artifact representing material caught in transit through the pore) is often found within the center of the spoke complex. NPCs have been estimated to contain over a hundred individual components, however, only a handful of these components have been cloned and sequenced and to date none of these appear to be components of the central plug.
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