Single-cell RNA sequencing provides new insight into cellular composition of IDH1-mutant gliomas

Winner of the Preuss Research Award, Andrew Venteicher, MD, PhD, presented his research, Cellular Architecture of Human IDH1-mutant Gliomas Revealed Using Single-cell RNA Sequencing, during the 2016 American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) Annual Scientific Meeting.

Heterogeneity among tumor cells within human glioma underlie their ability to resist chemotherapy and radiation, ultimately leading to tumor recurrence. Mounting evidence indicates that rarer subpopulations of tumor cells are endowed with stem-like properties, which are capable of resisting chemoradiation, proliferating and causing more aggressive, recurrent tumors. Characterizing these rarer, glioma stem-like populations has been difficult due to their elusive nature.

The authors optimized a technique to isolate single tumor cells for RNA sequencing from primary human gliomas at the time of resection in consented patients. The authors performed sensitive reverse transcriptase and PCR amplification from each isolated cell and have profiled the transcriptome from over several thousand cells purified from IDH1-mutant gliomas. Using computational analysis, they searched for tumor subpopulations based on the gene expression profile within IDH1-mutant gliomas.

Comparing the gene expression profiles of tumor cells derived from IDH1-mutant gliomas demonstrates that a majority of tumor cells are differentiated along two specialized glial programs. Surprisingly, a third, rarer, subpopulation of tumor cells was also detected that express a distinct stem-like program. Consistently, cellular proliferation was restricted to this stem-like subpopulation, consistent with the existence of a stem-like compartment that is solely responsible for fueling growth of IDH1-mutant gliomas in humans. The expression signature shared among these glioma stem-like cells mirrors the signature from normal fetal neurodevelopment, suggesting that features of a neurodevelopmental program are co-opted to support the growth and maintenance of human gliomas.

Single cell transcriptome analysis in IDH1-mutant gliomas reveals three distinct subpopulations of tumor cells: two dominant populations of specialized glial-like cells and a third rarer stem/progenitor-like subpopulation capable of cellular proliferation. These results provide unprecedented insight into the cellular composition of IDH1-mutant gliomas with critical implications for disease management.

About the 2016 AANS Annual Scientific Meeting
Attended by neurosurgeons, neurosurgical residents, medical students, neuroscience nurses, clinical specialists, physician assistants, allied health professionals and other medical professionals, the AANS Annual Scientific Meeting is the largest gathering of neurosurgeons in the nation, with an emphasis on the field’s latest research and technological advances. More than 1,200 scientific abstracts were submitted for the 2015 AANS Annual Scientific Meeting; the scientific presentations accepted for the 2016 event will represent cutting-edge examples of the incredible developments taking place within the field of neurosurgery. Additional information about the 2016 AANS Annual Scientific Meeting and the meeting program can be found here.

About The American Association of Neurological Surgeons
Founded in 1931 as the Harvey Cushing Society, the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) is a scientific and educational association with more than 10,000 members worldwide. The AANS is dedicated to advancing the specialty of neurological surgery in order to provide the highest quality of neurosurgical care to the public. Fellows of the AANS are board-certified by the American Board of Neurological Surgery, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada or the Mexican Council of Neurological Surgery, A.C. Neurosurgery is the medical specialty concerned with the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of disorders that affect the spinal column, spinal cord, brain, nervous system and peripheral nerves. For more information, visit

Source – The American Association of Neurological Surgeons

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