Remote neuronal activity drives glioma progression through SEMA4F

Nature. 2023 Jul;619(7971):844-850. doi: 10.1038/s41586-023-06267-2. Epub 2023 Jun 28.


The tumour microenvironment plays an essential role in malignancy, and neurons have emerged as a key component of the tumour microenvironment that promotes tumourigenesis across a host of cancers1,2. Recent studies on glioblastoma (GBM) highlight bidirectional signalling between tumours and neurons that propagates a vicious cycle of proliferation, synaptic integration and brain hyperactivity3-8; however, the identity of neuronal subtypes and tumour subpopulations driving this phenomenon is incompletely understood. Here we show that callosal projection neurons located in the hemisphere contralateral to primary GBM tumours promote progression and widespread infiltration. Using this platform to examine GBM infiltration, we identified an activity-dependent infiltrating population present at the leading edge of mouse and human tumours that is enriched for axon guidance genes. High-throughput, in vivo screening of these genes identified SEMA4F as a key regulator of tumourigenesis and activity-dependent progression. Furthermore, SEMA4F promotes the activity-dependent infiltrating population and propagates bidirectional signalling with neurons by remodelling tumour-adjacent synapses towards brain network hyperactivity. Collectively our studies demonstrate that subsets of neurons in locations remote to primary GBM promote malignant progression, and also show new mechanisms of glioma progression that are regulated by neuronal activity.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons
  • Brain / pathology
  • Brain Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Brain Neoplasms* / physiopathology
  • Carcinogenesis* / pathology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / pathology
  • Corpus Callosum / pathology
  • Disease Progression
  • Glioblastoma / pathology
  • Glioblastoma / physiopathology
  • Glioma* / pathology
  • Glioma* / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Neural Pathways
  • Neurons* / pathology
  • Synapses
  • Tumor Microenvironment*


  • SEMA4F protein, human