Purified by affinity chromatography, Galanthus nivalis lectin (GNL/GNA) is composed of four identical subunits. GNL is a mannose-binding lectin, though [interestingly] it will not bind α-linked glucose. This lectin was one of the original molecules used to understand how proteins recognize carbohydrates. Galanthus nivalis is found to bind to many viral glycoproteins, making it a useful tool in HIV research studies.
Colloidal gold can be used to visualize localization of specific saccharide moieties and examine the distribution of plasma membrane glycoproteins based on the binding pattern of Galanthus nivalis Lectin (GNL/GNA). Colloidal gold labeled lectins can be viewed via electron microscopy.