Every year, millions of people worldwide are infected with influenza, causing enormous health and economic problems. The most common type of influenza is influenza A. It is known that Natural Killer (NK) cells play an important role in controlling influenza A infection, mostly through the recognition of the viral protein hemagglutinin (HA) by the activating receptor, NKp46. In contrast, little is known regarding NK cell recognition of influenza B viruses, even though they are responsible for a third of all pediatric influenza deaths and are therefore included in the seasonal vaccine each year. Here we show that NKp46 also recognizes influenza B viruses. We show that NKp46 binds the HA protein of influenza B in a sialic acid-dependent manner, and identified the glycosylated residue in NKp46, which is critical for this interaction. We discovered that this interaction has a binding affinity approximately seven times lower than NKp46 binding of influenza A’s HA. Finally, we demonstrated, using mice deficient for the mouse orthologue of NKp46, named NCR1, that NKp46 is not important for influenza B elimination. These findings enable us to better understand the interactions between the different influenza viruses and NK cells that are known to be crucial for viral elimination.
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© 2020 by the authors. Li-censee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
- Influenza B
- NK cells