Trichosanthes kirilowii

About the Lectin

The Chinese root, tianhuafen, contains a lectin with a specificity for galactose. The root itself has been used in Chinese medicine for more than two thousand years as a treatment for chest congestion, to alleviate fever and inflammation, as an expectorant, and to induce menstruation. The purifed lectin will bind α– and β–galactose but it has a preference for β–galactose containing oligosaccharides. The purified lectin is a mixture of three isolectins, each with the same carbohydrate specificity 1 . The isolectins are apparently composed of two dissimilar subunits as judged by SDS-PAGE. Purified TKA has been used in conjunction with a panel of other lectins to aid in the epidemiological characterization of Neisseria gonorrhoeae 2 . Recently, the root has been the subject of much interest since the announcement that an extract has been used to kill HIV-infected cells in culture. Seeds of tianhuafen contain an apparently similar lectin 3 .


  1. Yeung, et al. (1986) Int J. Peptide Protein Res. 27 : 208-220.
  2. Schalla, W. O., et al (1985) J. Clin. Micro. 22 : 379-382.
  3. Falasca, A. I., et al. (1989) FEBS Lett. 246 : 159-162.

Product Characteristics

Buffer 0.01M Phosphate – 0.15M NaCl, pH 7.2-7.4.
Blood Group O >> A > B
Activity Less than 5 μg/ml will agglutinate human type O erythrocytes. Less than 0.5 µg/ml will agglutinate neuraminidase treated erythrocytes.
Inhibitory Carbohydrate Lactose > β-D-Galactose
Molecular Weight Aggregate MW=56,000. Subunits of MW=26,000 and 30,000 by SDS‑PAGE.