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Exp Cell Res. 1984 Apr;151(2):447-57.

Bismuth staining of a nucleolar protein.


A major nucleolar protein in Chinese hamster ovary cells with a molecular weight (MW) of 100 kD has been found to stain selectively with the bismuth tartrate technique of Locke & Huie [19]. After glutaraldehyde fixation and bismuth staining of electrophoretic transfers of total nucleolar proteins separated by SDS-PAGE, a single band corresponding to the 100 kD protein is revealed. When the technique is applied to whole cells, small punctate regions of the nucleoli are strongly stained. At the ultrastructural level, bismuth selectively contrasts the fibrillar centers and the adjoining cords of the dense fibrillar component. The remainder of the dense fibrillar component is not stained. It is proposed that the high phosphorylation level of the 100 kD protein is responsible for its glutaraldehyde-insensitive bismuth staining. The concentration of this protein in certain localized regions of the nucleolus suggests that it plays a metabolic rather than a structural role.

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