In addition to acting as a cellular scaffold, the cytoskeleton has roles in organelle transport, cell division, motility, and signaling, making it central to both cell health and disease processes. Cytoskeleton stains routinely serve as fiducial markers in the fluorescence imaging of live and fixed cells for both orientation and colocalization. In addition, a range of dye conjugates and fluorescent proteins that react with cytoskeletal subclasses are commonly used in cytoskeleton research. Four distinct Molecular Probes® technologies are routinely used for imaging of actin, talin, or tubulin of the cytoskeleton.

CellLight® reagents for the cytoskeleton

CellLight® reagents are designed to label actin, tubulin, or talin in live cells, enabling researchers to follow cytoskeletal dynamics. CellLight® proteins are compatible with other fluorescent probes for multiplex analysis in live cells, or after fixation for colocalization studies. These ready-to-use constructs express fluorescent fusion proteins targeted to the N-terminus of beta-actin (41.8 kDa), the N-terminus of beta-tubulin (49.8 kDa), or the C-terminus of talin (40 kDa). Introducing CellLight® reagents involves a simple transfection step, and they work like cell stains with minimal toxicity or chemical disruption.

CellLight® reagents for the cytoskeleton Enlarge image

Phalloidin conjugates for actin staining

Phalloidin is a bicyclic peptide that, when conjugated to fluorescent dyes, can be used to label actin in fixed and permeabilized cells. Fluorescent conjugates of phalloidin with Alexa Fluor® dyes are preferred F-actin stains for most applications because of their bright signals and photostability across the full spectral range. Phalloidin conjugates will bind to large and small actin filaments with a 1:1 stoichiometry between phallotoxin and actin subunits, but they do not bind G-actin monomers and are not suitable for paraffin-embedded sections.

Alexa Fluor® 350 phalloidin Enlarge image

Taxol® conjugates for tubulin staining

Taxol® conjugates are used for endpoint assays of cytoskeletal behavior in live cells to provide intense staining of polymerized tubulin. This method is not generally used for dynamic cell imaging because it interferes with cellular functions, including the dynamics of tubilin instability and cell division. Tubulin Tracker™ Green reagent (a Taxol® conjugate) is supplied as an uncharged nonfluorescent compound that easily passes through the plasma membrane of live cells to stain polymerized tubulin. Staining is lost during cell fixation.

Tubulin Tracker™ Green reagentEnlarge image

Antibodies to actin and tubulin

We offer a range of mouse primary antibodies for actin and tubulin detection in different applications. For imaging applications, antibodies can be used with fixed cells or frozen tissue sections, even after paraffin embedding.

See the full range of available clones in the primary antibody selector tool

Texas Red®-X goat anti–mouse IgG antibodyEnlarge image
Selection guides
 
Readout
The easiest fluorescent staining method for actin; no calculations, no dilutions, no pipetting
Target
High-affinity staining of F-actin
Common filter set
FITC
TRITC
Ex/Em (nm)
495/518
555/565
Signal-to-noise ratio
Photostability
Bibliography
Multiplexing
Yes
Yes
Live cells
No
No
Fixed cells
Yes
Yes
Fixable
Yes
Yes
Platform
Imaging 
Imaging 
Format
6 x dropper bottles
6 x dropper bottles
Cat. No.
 
Readout
Expression of fluorescent fusion protein
Range
β-actin
β-tubulin 
Talin
Common filter set
FITC
FITC
FITC
Labels
GFP
GFP
GFP
Ex/Em (nm)
488/520
488/520
488/520
Signal-to-noise ratio
Photostability
Bibliography
Multiplexing
Yes
Yes
Yes
Live cells
Yes
Yes
Yes
Fixed cells
No
No
No
Fixable
Yes
Yes
Yes
Platform
Imaging 
Imaging 
 Imaging
Format
1 mL
1 mL
1 mL
Cat. No.
 
Readout
 Expression of fluorescent fusion protein
Range
β-actin
β-tubulin 
Talin
Common filter set
TRITC
TRITC
TRITC
Labels
RFP
RFP
RFP
Ex/Em (nm)
555/584
555/584
555/584
Signal-to-noise ratio
Photostability
Bibliography
Multiplexing
Yes
Yes
Yes
Live cells
Yes
Yes
Yes
Fixed cells
No
No
No
Fixable
Yes
Yes
Yes
Platform
Imaging 
Imaging 
 Imaging
Format
1 mL
1 mL
1 mL
Cat. No.
 
Readout
High-performance fluorescent label with stable signal, resistant to photobleaching 
Traditional fluorescent label 
Range
 β-tubulin filaments
Common filter set
DAPI
FITC
TRITC
TRITC
Labels
Alexa Fluor® 350
Alexa Fluor® 488
Alexa Fluor® 555
Rhodamine
Ex/Em (nm)
346/442
496/519
555/565
540/565
Signal-to-noise ratio
Photostability
Bibliography
Multiplexing
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Live cells
No
No
No
No
Fixed cells
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Fixable
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Platform
Imaging 
Imaging 
 Imaging
 Imaging
Format
300 units
300 units
300 units
300 units
Cat. No.
 
Readout
High-performance fluorescent label with stable signal, resistant to photobleaching 
Range
β-tubulin filaments  
Common filter set
Texas Red®
Cy®5
Cy®5.5
Labels
Alexa Fluor® 594
Alexa Fluor® 647
Alexa Fluor® 680
Ex/Em (nm)
590/617
650/665
679/702
Signal-to-noise ratio
Photostability
Bibliography
Multiplexing
Yes
Yes
Yes
Live cells
No
No
No
Fixed cells
Yes
Yes
Yes
Fixable
Yes
Yes
Yes
Platform
Imaging 
Imaging 
 Imaging
Format
300 units
300 units
300 units
Cat. No.
 
Readout
Live-cell stain 
Target
β-tubulin 
Common filter set
FITC
Labels
Oregon Green®
Ex/Em (nm)
494/522
Signal-to-noise ratio
Photostability
Bibliography
Multiplexing
Yes
Live cells
Yes
Fixed cells
No
Fixable
No
Platform
Imaging 
Format
1 set
Cat. No.
For Research Use Only. Not for use in diagnostic procedures.