Cancer immunotherapy frequently fails because most carcinomas have few T cells, suggesting that cancers can suppress T cell infiltration. Here, we show that cancer cells of human pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA), colorectal cancer, and breast cancer are coated with transglutaminase-2 (TGM2)-dependent covalent CXCL12-keratin-19 (KRT19) heterodimers that are organized as filamentous networks. Since a dimeric form of CXCL12 suppresses the motility of human T cells, we determined whether this polymeric CXCL12-KRT19 coating mediated T cell exclusion. Mouse tumors containing control PDA cells exhibited the CXCL12-KRT19 coating, excluded T cells, and did not respond to treatment with anti-PD-1 antibody. Tumors containing PDA cells not expressing either KRT19 or TGM2 lacked the CXCL12-KRT19 coating, were infiltrated with activated CD8+ T cells, and growth was suppressed with anti-PD-1 antibody treatment. Thus, carcinomas assemble a CXCL12-KRT19 coating to evade cancer immune attack.
Keywords: CXCL12; T cells; cancer immunology; keratin-19; transglutaminase-2.
Copyright © 2022 the Author(s). Published by PNAS.