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.
Galanthus nivalis Lectin (GNL/GNA) is conjugated to ferritin, that has a molecular weight of 474,000 g/mol (all 24 subunits combined). Ferritin-conjugated lectins can be used to visualize localization of specific saccharide moieties and examine the distribution of plasma membrane glycoproteins. These conjugates can be viewed via electron microscopy.