Bivalent Chromatin Domains in Glioblastoma Reveal a Subtype-Specific Signature of Glioma Stem Cells

Cancer Res. 2018 May 15;78(10):2463-2474. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-17-1724. Epub 2018 Mar 16.


Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) can be clustered by gene expression into four main subtypes associated with prognosis and survival, but enhancers and other gene-regulatory elements have not yet been identified in primary tumors. Here, we profiled six histone modifications and CTCF binding as well as gene expression in primary gliomas and identified chromatin states that define distinct regulatory elements across the tumor genome. Enhancers in mesenchymal and classical tumor subtypes drove gene expression associated with cell migration and invasion, whereas enhancers in proneural tumors controlled genes associated with a less aggressive phenotype in GBM. We identified bivalent domains marked by activating and repressive chromatin modifications. Interestingly, the gene interaction network from common (subtype-independent) bivalent domains was highly enriched for homeobox genes and transcription factors and dominated by SHH and Wnt signaling pathways. This subtype-independent signature of early neural development may be indicative of poised dedifferentiation capacity in glioblastoma and could provide potential targets for therapy.Significance: Enhancers and bivalent domains in glioblastoma are regulated in a subtype-specific manner that resembles gene regulation in glioma stem cells. Cancer Res; 78(10); 2463-74. ©2018 AACR.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Binding Sites / physiology
  • Brain Neoplasms / pathology*
  • CCCTC-Binding Factor / metabolism
  • Cell Dedifferentiation / physiology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Movement / physiology
  • Chromatin / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / genetics
  • Gene Regulatory Networks / genetics
  • Glioblastoma / pathology*
  • Histone Code / genetics
  • Humans
  • Methylation
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / pathology*
  • Protein Domains / genetics*


  • CCCTC-Binding Factor
  • CTCF protein, human
  • Chromatin