Proneural and mesenchymal are two subtypes of glioblastoma identified by gene expression profiling. In this study, the primary aim was to detect markers to develop a clinically applicable method for distinguishing proneural and mesenchymal glioblastoma. The secondary aims were to investigate the temporospatial dynamics of these markers and to explore the association between these markers and the expression of chromatin-modifying genes. One hundred thirty-three glioma samples (grade II: 14 samples, grade III: 18, grade IV: 101) were analyzed. We quantified the expression of 6 signature genes associated with proneural and mesenchymal glioblastoma by quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction. We assigned proneural (PN) and mesenchymal (MES) scores based on the average of the 6 markers and calculated a predominant metagene (P-M) score by subtracting the MES from the PN score. We used these scores to analyze correlations with malignant transformation, tumor recurrence, tumor heterogeneity, chromatin-modifying gene expression, and HDAC7 expression. The MES score positively correlated with tumor grade, whereas the PN score did not. The P-M score was able to distinguish the proneural and mesenchymal subtypes. It was decreased in cases of tumor recurrence and malignant transformation and showed variability within a tumor, suggesting intratumoral heterogeneity. The PN score correlated with the expression of multiple histone-modifying genes, whereas the MES score was associated only with HDAC7 expression. Thus, we demonstrated a simple and straightforward method of quantifying proneural/mesenchymal markers in glioblastoma. Of note, HDAC7 expression might be a novel therapeutic target in glioblastoma treatment.
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