Reciprocal H3.3 gene editing identifies K27M and G34R mechanisms in pediatric glioma including NOTCH signaling

Commun Biol. 2020 Jul 9;3(1):363. doi: 10.1038/s42003-020-1076-0.


Histone H3.3 mutations are a hallmark of pediatric gliomas, but their core oncogenic mechanisms are not well-defined. To identify major effectors, we used CRISPR-Cas9 to introduce H3.3K27M and G34R mutations into previously H3.3-wildtype brain cells, while in parallel reverting the mutations in glioma cells back to wildtype. ChIP-seq analysis broadly linked K27M to altered H3K27me3 activity including within super-enhancers, which exhibited perturbed transcriptional function. This was largely independent of H3.3 DNA binding. The K27M and G34R mutations induced several of the same pathways suggesting key shared oncogenic mechanisms including activation of neurogenesis and NOTCH pathway genes. H3.3 mutant gliomas are also particularly sensitive to NOTCH pathway gene knockdown and drug inhibition, reducing their viability in culture. Reciprocal editing of cells generally produced reciprocal effects on tumorgenicity in xenograft assays. Overall, our findings define common and distinct K27M and G34R oncogenic mechanisms, including potentially targetable pathways.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • Brain Neoplasms / genetics
  • Brain Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Brain Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Child
  • Female
  • Gene Editing*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • Glioma / genetics
  • Glioma / metabolism
  • Glioma / pathology*
  • Glycine / chemistry
  • Glycine / genetics
  • Histones / chemistry
  • Histones / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Lysine / chemistry
  • Lysine / genetics
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred NOD
  • Mice, SCID
  • Mutation*
  • Receptors, Notch / genetics
  • Receptors, Notch / metabolism*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Histones
  • Receptors, Notch
  • Lysine
  • Glycine