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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™ Fix 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™ Fix 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 stainYesYesYes13 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 biofilmsYesYesYes10 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

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Biotium’s CellBrite™ Cytoplasmic Membrane Dyes are dye delivery solutions that can be added directly to normal culture media to uniformly label suspended or adherent cells in culture. The PKH dyes are structurally related dyes for cell membrane labeling. But unlike CellBrite™, labeling with PKH dyes requires multiple steps and subjects cells to an iso-osmotic mannitol loading medium that can negatively affect cell membrane integrity and viability. CellBrite™ Fix dyes also feature rapid and simple labeling in isotonic buffer. Cells can be fixed and permeabilized after labeling with CellBrite™ Fix, unlike original CellBrite™ dyes or PKH dyes, which don’t tolerate detergent.

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

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DiI (DiIC18(3); 1,1′-dioctadecyl-3,3,3′,3′-tetramethylindocarbocyanine) is a widely used lipophilic carbocyanine dye that labels cell membranes by inserting its two long (C18) hydrocarbon chains into the lipid bilayer. It has been extensively used for the antero- and retro-grade labeling of neurons. Neuro-DiI (also available as a ready-to-use staining solution, CellBrite™ Green) was developed by Biotium as an alternative to DiI. It has two additional t-butyl groups (one on each side of the dye) attached to the dye chromophore which introduce structural flexibility in the dye making it much more soluble in both organic solvents and in cell membranes. Improved dye solubility in the membranes enables rapid dispersion of the dye molecules, away from each other much more rapidly than regular DiI which has a relatively flat structure that promotes dye aggregation, and slows down dispersion of dye molecules. Neuro-DiI therefore results in more uniform, rapid and stable staining as compared to DiI. FAST™ DiI uses a different strategy to solubilize the dye. Replacing the saturated C18 lipophilic chain of regular DiI with unsaturated linoleyl chains gives the dye molecules a bent structure, making them less likely to aggregate and thus disperse faster in the membrane. Both Neuro-DiI and FAST™ DiI would diffuse faster than regular DiI in membranes, but a comparison of the relative diffusion rate between the two dyes has not been made. Neuro-DiI may have a potential advantage over FAST™ DiI. The t-butyl groups of Neuro-DiI render it more hydrophobic than FAST™ DiI, likely resulting in more stable membrane staining and make dye transfer between cells less likely.  
FAST DiI is a trademark of Thermo Fisher Scientific.

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

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CellBrite™ Cytoplasmic Membrane Dyes

From: $131 Sizes: 1 mL, 50 assaysCatalog #: 30021, 30022, 30023, - 30024View allHide

CellBrite™ NIR Cytoplasmic Membrane Dyes

From: $131 Sizes: 100 uLCatalog #: 30070, 30077, 30078, - 30079View allHide

CellBrite™ Fix Membrane Stains

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

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-T, 30101, 30101-T, 30102, 30102-T, 30103, 30103-T, 30104, - 30104-TView allHide

Wheat Germ Agglutinin (WGA) Conjugates

From: $68 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

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

Cell & Organelle Stains

We offer a wide selection of fluorescent organelle stains and other probes for live or fixed cells.

Cell Surface & Membrane Dyes

Classic membrane and membrane potential dyes, as well as unique dyes for covalent labeling of the cell surface.