X-gal Staining Protocol

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List of reagents is not yet complete


(Bruce Conklin and David Sanan, Gladstone/UCSF)


  • Potassium Ferrocyanide Crystalline (Fisher Scientific #P232-500
  • Potassium Ferrocyanide Trihydrate (Fisher Scientific #P236-500)
  • Magnesium Chloride (Fisher Scientific #M33-500)
  • 1X PBS
  • X-gal (Boehringer Mannheim #745-740)
  • DMSO
  • 2% Formaldehyde 0.2% Gluteraldehyde in 1 X PBS
  • Superfrost/ Plus Microscope Slides (Fisher #12-550-15)
  • Pap pen (Electron Microscopy Sciences #22303)
  • Nuclear Fast Red ( also called Kernechtrot)
  • Gel Mount (Biomeda, M01)


1) Solution A:

  • 5mM Potassium Ferricyanide Crystalline
  • 5mM Potassium Ferricyanide Trihydrate
  • 2mM Magnesium Chloride in 1 X PBS
  • (stored at 4 deg, protected from light, then warm to 37 degrees C prior to using)

2) X-gal Stock Solution (40X):

  • 40 mg/ml in DMSO (100 mg in 2.5 ml DMSO)
  • (store at -20 deg, protected from light)

3) Final X-gal Solution: Dilute X-gal stock solution 1:40 in Solution A. (first warm Solution A to 37 degrees C to prevent precipitation of X-gal)

4) Formalin/Glutaraldehyde fixative:

  • 12.3 ml distilled water
  • 10.0 ml 1% glutaraldehyde
  • 2.7 ml formaldehyde stock (37%)
  • 25.0 ml x2 saline buffer

Staining Protocol:

  • 1. Cut 10 micrometers cryostat sections onto pap-penned slides from fresh-frozen tissues. Immerse immediately into cold formaldehyde/gluteraldehyde 5 minutes, then rinse in dH20 for 60 seconds.
  • 2. Let section dry completely onto slide
  • 3. Rinse with 1X PBS
  • 4. Apply Final X-gal Solution to sections and incubate at 37 deg; for 30 minutes to 24 hours (Check sections under microscope every 2 hours for development of blue staining)
  • 5. Rinse with 1X PBS
  • 6. Wash 2 X 2 with deionized H2O.
  • 7. Counterstain 3 with Nuclear Fast Red
  • 8. Wash as in step 6, then cover slip with Gel Mount


Relevant papers and books

If this protocol has papers or books associated with it, list those references here. Below is an example for formatting purposes. See the OpenWetWare:Biblio page for more information.

  1. Goldbeter A and Koshland DE Jr. An amplified sensitivity arising from covalent modification in biological systems. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1981 Nov;78(11):6840-4. PubMed ID:6947258 | HubMed [Goldbeter-PNAS-1981]
  2. JACOB F and MONOD J. Genetic regulatory mechanisms in the synthesis of proteins. J Mol Biol. 1961 Jun;3:318-56. PubMed ID:13718526 | HubMed [Jacob-JMB-1961]
  3. ISBN:0879697164 [Ptashne-Genetic-Switch]
All Medline abstracts: PubMed | HubMed


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