ATRX regulates glial identity and the tumor microenvironment in IDH-mutant glioma

Babikir, H., Wang, L., Shamardani, K. et al.


Recent single-cell transcriptomic studies report that IDH-mutant gliomas share a common hierarchy of cellular phenotypes, independent of genetic subtype. However, the genetic differences between IDH-mutant glioma subtypes are prognostic, predictive of response to chemotherapy, and correlate with distinct tumor microenvironments.


To reconcile these findings, we profile 22 human IDH-mutant gliomas using scATAC-seq and scRNA-seq. We determine the cell-type-specific differences in transcription factor expression and associated regulatory grammars between IDH-mutant glioma subtypes. We find that while IDH-mutant gliomas do share a common distribution of cell types, there are significant differences in the expression and targeting of transcription factors that regulate glial identity and cytokine elaboration. We knock out the chromatin remodeler ATRX, which suffers loss-of-function alterations in most IDH-mutant astrocytomas, in an IDH-mutant immunocompetent intracranial murine model. We find that both human ATRX-mutant gliomas and murine ATRX-knockout gliomas are more heavily infiltrated by immunosuppressive monocytic-lineage cells derived from circulation than ATRX-intact gliomas, in an IDH-mutant background. ATRX knockout in murine glioma recapitulates gene expression and open chromatin signatures that are specific to human ATRX-mutant astrocytomas, including drivers of astrocytic lineage and immune-cell chemotaxis. Through single-cell cleavage under targets and tagmentation assays and meta-analysis of public data, we show that ATRX loss leads to a global depletion in CCCTC-binding factor association with DNA, gene dysregulation along associated chromatin loops, and protection from therapy-induced senescence.


These studies explain how IDH-mutant gliomas from different subtypes maintain distinct phenotypes and tumor microenvironments despite a common lineage hierarchy.


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November, 2021


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