- We previously showed that human NK cells used the NKp46 receptor to lyse Mycobacterium tuberculosis H37Ra-infected monocytes. To identify ligands on H37Ra-infected human mononuclear phagocytes, we used anti-NKp46 to immunoprecipitate NKp46 from NK cells bound to its ligand(s) on H37Ra-infected monocytes. Mass spectrometry analysis identified a 57-kDa molecule, vimentin, as a putative ligand for NKp46. Vimentin expression was significantly up-regulated on the surface of infected monocytes, compared with uninfected cells, and this was confirmed by fluorescence microscopy. Anti-vimentin antiserum inhibited NK cell lysis of infected monocytes, whereas antiserum to actin, another filamentous protein, did not. CHO-K1 cells transfected with a vimentin construct were lysed much more efficiently by NK cells than cells transfected with a control plasmid. This lysis was inhibited by mAb-mediated masking of NKp46 (on NK cells) or vimentin (on infected monocytes). ELISA and Far Western blotting showed that recombinant vimentin bound to a NKp46 fusion protein. These results indicate that vimentin is involved in binding of NKp46 to M. tuberculosis H37Ra-infected mononuclear phagocytes.