The pathological changes in epigenetics and gene regulation that accompany the progression of low-grade to high-grade gliomas are under-studied. The authors use a large set of paired atac-seq and RNA-seq data from surgically resected glioma specimens to infer gene regulatory relationships in glioma. Thirty-eight glioma patient samples underwent atac-seq sequencing and 16 samples underwent additional RNA-seq analysis. Using an atac-seq/RNA-seq correlation matrix, atac-seq peaks were paired with genes based on high correlation values (|r2| > 0.6). Samples clustered by IDH1 status but not by grade. Surprisingly there was a trend for IDH1 mutant samples to have more peaks. The majority of peaks are positively correlated with survival and positively correlated with gene expression. Constructing a model of the top six atac-seq peaks created a highly accurate survival prediction model (r2 = 0.68). Four of these peaks were still significant after controlling for age, grade, pathology, IDH1 status and gender. Grade II, III, and IV (primary) samples have similar transcription factors and gene modules. However, grade IV (recurrent) samples have strikingly few peaks. Patient-derived glioma cultures showed decreased peak counts following radiation indicating that this may be radiation-induced. This study supports the notion that IDH1 mutant and IDH1 wildtype gliomas have different epigenetic landscapes and that accessible chromatin sites mapped by atac-seq peaks tend to be positively correlated with expression. The data in this study leads to a new model of treatment response wherein glioma cells respond to radiation therapy by closing open regions of DNA.
© 2022. The Author(s).