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Cell fate mapping of human glioblastoma reveals an invariant stem cell hierarchy pre- and post-treatment

Human glioblastomas (GBMs) are thought to harbour a subpopulation of glioblastoma stem cells (GSCs) that initiate tumour formation and regrowth following treatment. However, the origin of their proliferative heterogeneity during tumour growth pre- and post-treatment remains poorly understood. Here we study the clonal evolution of DNA barcoded GBMs following their serial propagation in xenograft mouse models to define the fate behaviour of individual GBM cells. Through quantitative analysis of clone sizes scored across multiple passages, we show that the growth of GBM clones in vivo are consistent with a remarkably neutral process resulting from a conserved proliferative hierarchy. In this model, slow-cycling stem-like cells give rise to a more rapidly cycling progenitor population with extensive self-maintenance capacity, that in turn generates short-lived cells that lack proliferative ability. We also identify rare "outlier" clones that deviate from these dynamics, and further show that chemotherapy reproducibly facilitates the selective expansion of pre-existing drug-resistant GBM lineages. Finally, we show that coexisting, functionally distinct GSCs may be targeted separately with epigenetic compounds. These findings show that, independent of an evolving mutational signature, the clonal dynamics of human GBM can be surprisingly robust, with intratumoural heterogeneity derived primarily from the defined stochastic fate behaviour of tumour cells within a conserved proliferative hierarchy.

Click on a Dataset ID in the table below to learn more, and to find out who to contact about access to these data

Dataset ID Description Technology Samples
EGAD00001003293 Illumina HiSeq 2500 11
EGAD00001003422 Illumina HiSeq 2500 5
Publications Citations
Fate mapping of human glioblastoma reveals an invariant stem cell hierarchy.
Nature 549: 2017 227-232