Single-Cell RNA Sequencing of Childhood Ependymoma Reveals Neoplastic Cell Subpopulations That Impact Molecular Classification and Etiology

Cell Rep. 2020 Aug 11;32(6):108023. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2020.108023.


Ependymoma (EPN) is a brain tumor commonly presenting in childhood that remains fatal in most children. Intra-tumoral cellular heterogeneity in bulk-tumor samples significantly confounds our understanding of EPN biology, impeding development of effective therapy. We, therefore, use single-cell RNA sequencing, histology, and deconvolution to catalog cellular heterogeneity of the major childhood EPN subgroups. Analysis of PFA subgroup EPN reveals evidence of an undifferentiated progenitor subpopulation that either differentiates into subpopulations with ependymal cell characteristics or transitions into a mesenchymal subpopulation. Histological analysis reveals that progenitor and mesenchymal subpopulations co-localize in peri-necrotic zones. In conflict with current classification paradigms, relative PFA subpopulation proportions are shown to determine bulk-tumor-assigned subgroups. We provide an interactive online resource that facilitates exploration of the EPN single-cell dataset. This atlas of EPN cellular heterogeneity increases understanding of EPN biology.

Keywords: RNA-seq; classification; ependymomasc; etiology.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Ependymoma / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Neoplastic Cells, Circulating / metabolism*
  • Single-Cell Analysis / methods*