- ABSTRACT Antiviral immune defenses involve natural killer (NK) cells. We previously showed that the NK-activating receptor NKp44 is involved in the functional recognition of H1- type influenza virus strains by NK cells. In the present study, we investigated the interaction of NKp44 and the hemagglutinin of a primary influenza virus H5N1 isolate. Here we show that recombinant NKp44 recognizes H5-expressing cells and specifically interacts with soluble H5 hemagglutinin. H5-pseudotyped lentiviral particles bind to NK cells expressing NKp44. Following interaction with target cells expressing H5, pseudotyped lentiviral particles, or membrane-associated H5, NK cells show NKp44-mediated induced activity. These findings indicate that NKp44-H5 interactions induce functional NK activation.