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Junior Research Group Immune Regulation in Cancer

Dr. Chong Sun

Dissect antitumor T cell immunity for more effective cancer immunotherapy (click to enlarge)

Research Focus:
Our lab studies the interplay between T cells and tumors, with a particular focus on the molecular mechanisms that compromise T cell-mediated immune response to tumors, a critical component of antitumor immunity.

Specifically, 1) insufficient T cell trafficking into tumors, 2) compromised T cell activation, and 3) tumor cell resistance to T cell cytotoxicity collectively contribute to immune evasion in cancer and limit the effectiveness of T cell-based immunotherapies. Our primary objective is to systematically identify and understand the molecular mechanisms that contribute to these processes in the tumor microenvironment or intrinsically within T cells.

Approaches and objectives:
Our lab employs physiologically or clinically relevant cell and mouse models to recapitulate the individual processes that compromise antitumor T cell immunity, including T cell trafficking, modulation of T cell functions, and tumor cell response to T cell attack.

We then use or develop function-based genomic methods, such as genetic and chemical screening, in combination with state-of-the-art technologies to systematically identify and comprehend the molecular determinants underlying these individual processes. Finally, we evaluate the translational potential of our findings using in vivo and ex vivo tumor models.

Our aim is to contribute to the understanding of molecular and cellular mechanisms that regulate antitumor T cell response and bridge the gap between basic research and clinical translation, thus facilitating the development of more effective therapeutic strategies for cancer immunotherapy.


Dr. Chong Sun
Immune Regulation in Cancer (D250)
Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum
Im Neuenheimer Feld 280
69120 Heidelberg
Tel: +49 6221 42 3432

Selected Publications

  • Sun, C.*, Mezzadra, R.* & Schumacher, T. N.* Regulation and Function of the PD-L1 Checkpoint. Immunity 48, 434-452, doi:10.1016/j.immuni.2018.03.014 (2018).
  • Mezzadra, R.*, Sun, C.*, Jae, L. T.*, Gomez-Eerland, R., de Vries, E., Wu, W., Logtenberg, M. E. W., Slagter, M., Rozeman, E. A., Hofland, I., Broeks, A., Horlings, H. M., Wessels, L. F. A., Blank, C. U., Xiao, Y., Heck, A. J. R., Borst, J., Brummelkamp, T. R. & Schumacher, T. N. M. Identification of CMTM6 and CMTM4 as PD-L1 protein regulators. Nature 549, 106-110, doi:10.1038/nature23669 (2017).
  • Sun, C*., Wang, L.*, Huang, S.*, Heynen, G. J., Prahallad, A., Robert, C., Haanen, J., Blank, C., Wesseling, J., Willems, S. M., Zecchin, D., Hobor, S., Bajpe, P. K., Lieftink, C., Mateus, C., Vagner, S., Grernrum, W., Hofland, I., Schlicker, A., Wessels, L. F., Beijersbergen, R. L., Bardelli, A., Di Nicolantonio, F., Eggermont, A. M. & Bernards, R. Reversible and adaptive resistance to BRAF(V600E) inhibition in melanoma. Nature 508, 118-122, doi:10.1038/nature13121 (2014).
  • Miao, B*; Hu, Z*; Mezzadra, R*; Hoeijmakers, L*; Fauster, A; Du, S; Yang, Z; Sator-Schmitt, M; Engel, H; Li, X; Broderick, C; Jin, G; Gomez-Eerland, R; Rozeman, L; Lei, X; Matsuo, H; Yang, C; Hofland, I; Peters, D; Broeks, A; Laport, E; Fitz, A; Zhao, X; Mahmoud, M. A. A; Ma, X; Sander, S; Liu, H. K; Cui, G; Gan, Y; Wu, W; Xiao, Y; Heck, A. J. R; Guan, W; Lowe, S. W; Horlings, H. M; Wang, C; Brummelkamp, T. R; Blank, C. U#; Schumacher, T. N. M.# & Sun, C#. CMTM6 shapes antitumor T cell response through modulating protein expression of CD58 and PD-L1. Cancer Cell 41, 1-12, doi:10.1016/j.ccell.2023.08.008 (2023).
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