Epigenetic neural glioblastoma enhances synaptic integration and predicts therapeutic vulnerability.
Neural-tumor interactions drive glioma growth as evidenced in preclinical models, but clinical validation is nascent. We present an epigenetically defined neural signature of glioblastoma that independently affects patients' survival. We use reference signatures of neural cells to deconvolve tumor DNA and classify samples into low- or high-neural tumors. High-neural glioblastomas exhibit hypomethylated CpG sites and upregulation of genes associated with synaptic integration. Single-cell transcriptomic analysis reveals high abundance of stem cell-like malignant cells classified as oligodendrocyte precursor and neural precursor cell-like in high-neural glioblastoma. High-neural glioblastoma cells engender neuron-to-glioma synapse formation and and show an unfavorable survival after xenografting. In patients, a high-neural signature associates with decreased survival as well as increased functional connectivity and can be detected via DNA analytes and brain-derived neurotrophic factor in plasma. Our study presents an epigenetically defined malignant neural signature in high-grade gliomas that is prognostically relevant.
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