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The hairy pods of Mucuna poggei

The proteolytic enzyme mucunain is a protein in the tissues of certain legumes of the genus Mucuna, especially velvet bean (Mucuna pruriens).[1][2][3]

In these species the mucunain is found in stiff hairs, or trichomes, covering the seed pods. When the hairs rub off and come in contact with skin they cause severe itching and irritation.[1][3][4]


  1. ^ a b Andersen, Hjalte Holm; Elberling, Jesper P.; Arendt-Nielsen, Lars (2015). "Human Surrogate Models of Histaminergic and Non-histaminergic Itch". Acta Dermato-Venereologica. 95: 771–7. doi:10.2340/00015555-2146. PMID 26015312. 
  2. ^ NCBI Protein database mucunain (Mucuna pruriens) GenBank: ACB87490.1
  3. ^ a b Reddy, V.B.; et al. (2008). "Cowhage-evoked itch is mediated by a novel cysteine protease: a ligand of protease-activated receptors". J. Neurosci. 28 (17): 4331–4335. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0716-08.2008. PMC 2659338Freely accessible. PMID 18434511. 
  4. ^ Shelley, WB; Arthur, RP (1955). "Mucunain, the active pruritogenic proteinase of cowhage". Science. 122: 469–470. doi:10.1126/science.122.3167.469. PMID 13255877.