Little was known about biological activities of compounds from the medicinal mushroom of the genus Pholiota. A lectin from the Pholiota adiposa has now been isolated and its properties tested. The isolation procedure included ion exchange chromatography on DEAE-cellulose and CM-cellulose, and fast protein liquid chromatography-gel filtration (FPLC) on Superdex 75. The lectin was composed of two identical subunits, each with a molecular mass of 16 kDa. Its N-terminal amino-acid sequence showed little similarity to sequences of other Agaricales lectins. The hemagglutinating activity of the lectin was stable at temperatures up to 50 degrees C, and in NaOH and HCl solutions with concentrations less than 25 mM. It was inhibited by inulin (12.5-200 mM), but enhanced by Cu(2+) (6.25-25 mM), Fe(2+) (12.5-25 mM), and Al(3+) (6.25-25 mM) ions. The lectin showed antiproliferative activity toward hepatoma Hep G2 cells and breast cancer MCF7 cells with an IC(50) of 2.1 microM and approximately 3.2 microM, respectively. It exhibited HIV-1 reverse transcriptase inhibitory activity with an IC(50) of 1.9 microM. When compared with P. aurivella lectin, the only Pholiota lectin published to date, P. adiposa lectin differs in chromatographic behavior, molecular mass, N-terminal sequence, and effect of cations on hemagglutinating activity. In the case of the lectin from P. aurivella, its antifungal, antiproliferative, and HIV-1 reverse transcriptase inhibitory activities have not been determined.