- Natural cytotoxicity receptors (NCRs), expressed by natural killer (NK) cells, trigger NK lysis of tumor and virus-infected cells on interaction with cell-surface ligands of these target cells. We have determined that viral hemagglutinins expressed on the surface of virus-infected cells are involved in the recognition by the NCRs, NKp44 and NKp46. Recognition of tumor cells by the NCRs NKp30 and NKp46 involves heparan sulfate epitopes expressed on the tumor cell membrane. Our studies provide new evidence for the identity of the ligands for NCRs and indicate that a broader definition should be applied to pathological patterns recognized by innate immune receptors. Since nonmicrobial endogenous carbohydrate structures contribute significantly to this recognition, there is an imperative need to develop appropriate tools for the facile sequencing of carbohydrate moieties.