Cilium Expression Score Predicts Glioma Survival

Front Genet. 2021 Nov 19:12:758391. doi: 10.3389/fgene.2021.758391. eCollection 2021.


The accurate classification, prognostication, and treatment of gliomas has been hindered by an existing cellular, genomic, and transcriptomic heterogeneity within individual tumors and their microenvironments. Traditional clustering is limited in its ability to distinguish heterogeneity in gliomas because the clusters are required to be exclusive and exhaustive. In contrast, biclustering can identify groups of co-regulated genes with respect to a subset of samples and vice versa. In this study, we analyzed 1,798 normal and tumor brain samples using an unsupervised biclustering approach. We identified co-regulated gene expression profiles that were linked to proximally located brain regions and detected upregulated genes in subsets of gliomas, associated with their histologic grade and clinical outcome. In particular, we present a cilium-associated signature that when upregulated in tumors is predictive of poor survival. We also introduce a risk score based on expression of 12 cilium-associated genes which is reproducibly informative of survival independent of other prognostic biomarkers. These results highlight the role of cilia in development and progression of gliomas and suggest potential therapeutic vulnerabilities for these highly aggressive tumors.

Keywords: biclustering; cilium; gene expression; glioblastoma; glioma; risk score; survival.