Although a growing body of evidence indicates that phenotypic plasticity exhibited by glioblastoma cells plays a central role in tumor development and post-therapy recurrence, the master drivers of their aggressiveness remain elusive. Here we mapped the changes in active (H3K4me3) and repressive (H3K27me3) histone modifications accompanying the repression of glioblastoma stem-like cells tumorigenicity. Genes with changing histone marks delineated a network of transcription factors related to cancerous behavior, stem state, and neural development, highlighting a previously unsuspected association between repression of ARNT2 and loss of cell tumorigenicity. Immunohistochemistry confirmed ARNT2 expression in cell sub-populations within proliferative zones of patients' glioblastoma. Decreased ARNT2 expression was consistently observed in non-tumorigenic glioblastoma cells, compared to tumorigenic cells. Moreover, ARNT2 expression correlated with a tumorigenic molecular signature at both the tissue level within the tumor core and at the single cell level in the patients' tumors. We found that ARNT2 knockdown decreased the expression of SOX9, POU3F2 and OLIG2, transcription factors implicated in glioblastoma cell tumorigenicity, and repressed glioblastoma stem-like cell tumorigenic properties in vivo. Our results reveal ARNT2 as a pivotal component of the glioblastoma cell tumorigenic signature, located at a node of a transcription factor network controlling glioblastoma cell aggressiveness.
Keywords: Brain cancer; ChIP; Glioma; Xenograft.