Effective tumor immunotherapy requires physical contact of T cells with cancer cells. However, tumors often constitute a specialized microenvironment that excludes T cells from the vicinity of cancer cells, and its underlying mechanisms are still poorly understood. DOCK2 is a Rac activator critical for migration and activation of lymphocytes. We herein show that cancer-derived cholesterol sulfate (CS), a lipid product of the sulfotransferase SULT2B1b, acts as a DOCK2 inhibitor and prevents tumor infiltration by effector T cells. Using clinical samples, we found that CS was abundantly produced in certain types of human cancers such as colon cancers. Functionally, CS-producing cancer cells exhibited resistance to cancer-specific T-cell transfer and immune checkpoint blockade. Although SULT2B1b is known to sulfate oxysterols and inactivate their tumor-promoting activity, the expression levels of cholesterol hydroxylases, which mediate oxysterol production, are low in SULT2B1b-expressing cancers. Therefore, SULT2B1b inhibition could be a therapeutic strategy to disrupt tumor immune evasion in oxysterol-non-producing cancers. Thus, our findings define a previously unknown mechanism for tumor immune evasion and provide a novel insight into the development of effective immunotherapies.
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