Single-cell transcriptome analysis of lineage diversity in high-grade glioma

Yuan J, Levitin HM, Frattini V, Bush EC, Boyett DM, Samanamud J, Ceccarelli M, Dovas A, Zanazzi G, Canoll P, Bruce JN, Lasorella A, Iavarone A, Sims PA.

Genome Medicine

July 24, 2018

Background: Despite extensive molecular characterization, we lack a comprehensive understanding of lineage identity, differentiation, and proliferation in high-grade gliomas (HGGs). Methods: We sampled the cellular milieu of HGGs by profiling dissociated human surgical specimens with a high-density microwell system for massively parallel single-cell RNA-Seq. We analyzed the resulting profiles to identify subpopulations of both HGG and microenvironmental cells and applied graph-based methods to infer structural features of the malignantly transformed populations. Results: While HGG cells can resemble glia or even immature neurons and form branched lineage structures, mesenchymal transformation results in unstructured populations. Glioma cells in a subset of mesenchymal tumors lose their neural lineage identity, express inflammatory genes, and co-exist with marked myeloid infiltration, reminiscent of molecular interactions between glioma and immune cells established in animal models. Additionally, we discovered a tight coupling between lineage resemblance and proliferation among malignantly transformed cells. Glioma cells that resemble oligodendrocyte progenitors, which proliferate in the brain, are often found in the cell cycle. Conversely, glioma cells that resemble astrocytes, neuroblasts, and oligodendrocytes, which are non-proliferative in the brain, are generally non-cycling in tumors. Conclusions: These studies reveal a relationship between cellular identity and proliferation in HGG and distinct population structures that reflects the extent of neural and non-neural lineage resemblance among malignantly transformed cells.

Last updated: September 23, 2021