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Membrane & Cell Surface Stains

Find the right dye for your application

Find a Membrane or Surface Stain for Your Workflow
Researchers frequently wish to label the cell surface or plasma membrane to visualize cellular boundaries or cell morphology in multi-color fluorescence imaging. Biotium offers a number of traditional and novel stains that are designed for convenient labeling of live cells, fixed cells, or live cells or for fixation and subsequent immunostaining. See below to find the right stain for your application.

A. Stain then fix

      1. Stain live cells      

             2. Fix cells            

3. (Optional) Proceed to
additional staining

Recommended products:
CellBrite™ Cytoplasmic Membrane Dyes*
CellBrite™ Fix & MemBrite™ Stains
WGA or Con A Conjugates

*Formaldehyde fixation recommended for CellBrite™ Cytoplasmic Membrane Dyes.

B. Stain, fix, & permeabilize

      1. Stain live cells      

             2. Fix cells            

    3. Permeabilize cells   

4. (Optional) Proceed to
additional staining

Recommended products:
CellBrite™ Fix & MemBrite™ Stains
WGA or Con A Conjugates

C. Fix, then stain

      1. Fix cells      

      2. Stain cells     

Recommended products:
CellBrite™ Cytoplasmic Membrane Dyes*
WGA or Con A Conjugates

*Formaldehyde fixation recommended for CellBrite™ Cytoplasmic Membrane Dyes.

Compare Membrane and Cell Surface Stains

StainDye transfer between cellsNon-toxic, stable1Stains yeastStains bacteriaStain after fixation2Fix after stainingTolerates detergent or MeOH fix?Color selectionPros & Cons
CellBrite™ Cytoplasmic Membrane DyesMinimalYesNoNoYes3Yes3No4 colors from blue to far-redPro: Fix before or after staining3
Con: Uneven live cell staining
Con: Poor tolerance for MeOH/detergent
CellBrite™ NIR Near-Infrared Cytoplasmic Membrane DyesMinimalYesNoNoYesYesNo4 near-IR dye colors
CellBrite™ Fix Membrane StainsMinimalYesYesYesNoYesYesGreen,
red, &
far-red
Pro: Rapid, uniform staining
Pro: Wash after stain optional
Pro: Fix & perm cells for IF
Pro: Stains yeast & bacteria
Con: Can’t stain fixed cells
MemBrite™ Fix Cell Surface Staining KitsMinimalYesYesGram+ onlyNoYesYes8 colors from blue to near-IRPro: Rapid, uniform staining
Pro: Fix & perm cells for IF
Pro: Great color selection
Pro: Stains yeast
Con: Can’t stain fixed cells
CF® Dye WGA ConjugatesPossiblePossibly toxic4Bud scarsFluorescent Gram stainNoYesYes13 colors from UV to near-IRPro: Fix before or after staining
Pro: Fluorescent Gram stain
Pro: Yeast bud scar stain
Pro: Great color selection
Con: May vary among cell types
CF® Dye Con A ConjugatesPossiblePossibly toxic4YesReported to stain biofilmsNoYesYes10 colors from UV to near-IRPro: Fix before or after staining
Pro: Great color selection
Pro: Stains yeast
Con: May vary among cell types
1. Membrane and cell surface labels will be internalized by endocytosis in live cells over time.
2. Intracellular membranes may be labeled in fixed cells.
3. Formaldehyde fixation is recommended for CellBrite™ Cytoplasmic Membrane Stains.
4. Lectins may be toxic or stimulatory to live cells depending on cell type.

See our complete selection of Cellular Stains, or download our Cellular Stains Brochure.


HeLa cells fixed with formaldehyde, then stained with the CellBrite™ Blue Cytoplasmic Staining Kit.

HeLa cells stained with CellBrite™ Fix 555 (red), fixed with MeOH and stained with CF®640R anti-Mitochondrial Marker clone 113-1 (cyan), and NucSpot® 470 (green).
S. cerevisiae stained separately with MemBrite™ Fix 488/515 (green), MemBrite™ Fix 568/580 (red), and MemBrite™ Fix 640/660 (magenta) then mixed.
Live HeLa cells stained with CF® 594 Con A (red) and Hoechst 33342 (blue) for 10 minutes at 37°C, then washed and imaged.

Faq

CellBrite™ & MemBrite™ Membrane & Cell Surface Stains

CellBrite™ Cytoplasmic Membrane Stains are lipophilic dyes for simple, non-toxic, stable labeling of membranes in live or fixed cells. Cells can be fixed with formaldehyde before or after CellBrite™ staining. But the staining has poor tolerance for permeabilization or methanol fixation, so CellBrite™ staining is not easily combined with intracellular immunofluorescence (IF) staining. The dyes also do not stain bacteria or yeast. CellBrite™ NIR dyes are CellBrite™ dyes with near-infrared fluorescence compatible with small animal NIR imaging systems. CellBrite™ Fix and MemBrite™ Fix stains were developed to overcome some of these shortcomings. They are novel covalent stains that can be fixed and permeabilized for IF staining. CellBrite™ Fix Membrane Stains are fluorogenic reactive membrane dyes that rapidly accumulate at the plasma membrane. When they incorporate into lipids, they become fluorescent, and at the same time react covalently with membrane proteins for stable labeling. Staining takes only 15 minutes in a single step with no wash. CellBrite™ Fix stains mammalian cells, yeast, and bacteria. MemBrite™ Fix Cell Surface Stains do not bind lipids, but label cell surface proteins. MemBrite™ Fix requires a two-step staining protocol with washing, but offers a more extensive choice of dye colors than CellBrite™ Fix. MemBrite™ Fix also can be used to stain yeast. But unlike original CellBrite™ dyes and lectins, CellBrite™ Fix and MemBrite™ Fix cannot be used on cells that are already fixed. To select a dye that’s right for your application, see our Membrane and Cell Surface Stains Comparison, or download our Membrane & Surface Stains Brochure.

Category: CellBrite™ & MemBrite™ Membrane & Cell Surface Stains

← FAQs
Original CellBrite™ Cytoplasmic Membrane Stains are lipophilic carbocyanine dyes. These dyes undergo an increase in fluorescence when they insert into lipid bilayers. Lipophilic carbocyanine dyes stably label the plasma membrane and other intracellular membranes of cells. They also can be used to stain fixed cells or artificial lipid bilayers. CellBrite™ Fix Membrane Stains are fluorogenic membrane dyes that react covalently with proteins on the cell surface. They have better water solubility than original CellBrite™ dyes and as a result generally give more even staining of the cell surface compared to original CellBrite™ dyes. CellBrite™ Fix are well retained after fixation and permeabiliation or methanol fixation. However, CellBrite™ Fix dyes cannot be used to stain the plasma membrane of cells after they are already fixed (the dyes stain intracellular membranes of fixed cells). For all membrane stains, if cells are returned to culture after staining, membrane internalization will occur over time, resulting in predominantly intracellular staining.

Category: CellBrite™ & MemBrite™ Membrane & Cell Surface Stains

← FAQs
Lipophilic carbocyanine dyes like our original CellBrite™ Cytoplasmic Membrane Stains have been used to stain neuronal cells in culture for several weeks, and in vivo for up to a year (see note below). The dyes do not appreciably affect cell viability, and do not readily transfer between cells with intact membranes, allowing cell migration and tracking studies in mixed populations. Staining with the covalent stains CellBrite™ Fix and MemBrite™ Fix lasts up to 48 hours in tissue culture cells (see note below). Note: Over time, all cell surface stains will be internalized and become intracellular as membranes turn over by endocytosis. The rate of internalization may vary by cell type, rate of membrane turnover, and rate of cell division. In immortalized cells in culture, most of the surface staining becomes internalized over the course of about 24 hours for CellBrite™, CellBrite™ Fix, and MemBrite™ Fix stains. For an alternative stable and fixable stain for long term cell tracking or tracking cells in mixed cultures, see our ViaFluor® SE Cell Proliferation Dyes. These dyes covalently label intracellular proteins throughout the cell and are non-toxic and fixable.

Category: CellBrite™ & MemBrite™ Membrane & Cell Surface Stains

← FAQs

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CellBrite™ Cytoplasmic Membrane Dyes

From: $127 Sizes: 1 mL, 50 assaysCatalog #: 30021, 30022, 30023, - 30024View allHide

CellBrite™ NIR Cytoplasmic Membrane Dyes

From: $127 Sizes: 100 uLCatalog #: 30070, 30077, 30078, - 30079View allHide

CellBrite™ Fix Membrane Stains

From: $135 Sizes: Trial size (1 vial), Set of 5 vialsCatalog #: 30089, 30089-T, 30088, 30088-T, 30090, - 30090-TView allHide

MemBrite™ Fix Cell Surface Staining Kits

From: $160 Sizes: 100 labelings, 500 labelingsCatalog #: 30092, 30092-T, 30093, 30093-T, 30094, 30094-T, 30095, 30095-T, 30096, 30096-T, 30097, 30097-T, 30098, 30098-T, 30099, - 30099-TView allHide

Wheat Germ Agglutinin (WGA) Conjugates

From: $66 Sizes: 1 mg, 5 x 1 mgCatalog #: 29021, 29022, 29023, 29024, 29025, 29026, 29027, 29028, 29029, 29059, 29064, 29073, 29021-1, 29022-1, 29023-1, 29024-1, 29025-1, 29026-1, 29027-1, 29028-1, 29029-1, 29059-1, 29064-1, 29077-1, 29077, 29076-1, - 29076View allHide

Concanavalin A (Con A) CF® Dye Conjugates

From: $144 Sizes: 5 x 1 mgCatalog #: 29015, 29016, 29017, 29018, 29019, 29020, 29058, 29074, 29075, - 29080View allHide