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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

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™ 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 artificial lipid bilayers. Immediately after staining cultured cells, the dyes primarily localize to the plasma membrane. If cells are cultured over time after staining, the labeled membranes are internalized and staining gradually becomes mostly intracellular.

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

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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

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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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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

From: $148 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.