Vaults are microscopic structures found in nearly all cells which have a nucleus. They were first seen in 1986 using electron microscope 'negative staining' techniques.(ref.)
They are highly regular in structure, made of specialsed proteins, and with a strict 36-fold symmetry (Illustration here) The hollow barrel-like structures typically have a length of approximately 70 nm and a diameter of 40 nm.
They have so far been found in the cells of mammals, birds, fish, plants, nematodes, yeasts, bacteria etc. etc.. Many cells have have a vault count of over 10,000.
Their function is not presently known.
Given their prevalence, it's assumed that they could have some critical cellular function(s) - possibly involving intra-cellular transport processes.- which go far back in evolutionary time.
Further technical details :Structure of the vault, a ubiquitous cellular component Structure, Vol.7(4), p.371-379
Vaults are one example of the large number of cellular 'organelles' which have yet-to-be-identified functions. See :
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