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Oncotarget. 2015 Mar 20;6(8):6267-80.

Coexpression analysis of CD133 and CD44 identifies proneural and mesenchymal subtypes of glioblastoma multiforme.

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Department of Pathology, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia.
Department of Surgery (RMH), University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia.
Centre for Neural Engineering, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia.


Accumulating evidence suggests that the stem cell markers CD133 and CD44 indicate molecular subtype in Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM). Gene coexpression analysis of The Cancer Genome Atlas GBM dataset was undertaken to compare markers of the Glioblastoma Stem-Progenitor Cell (GSPC) phenotype. Pearson correlation identified genes coexpressed with stem cell markers, which were then used to build a gene signature that classifies patients based on a CD133 coexpression module signature (CD133-M) or CD44-M subtype. CD133-M tumors were enriched for the Proneural (PN) GBM subtype compared to Mesenchymal (MES) subtype for CD44-M tumors. Gene set enrichment identified DNA replication/cell cycle genes in the CD133-M and invasion/migration in CD44-M, while functional experiments showed enhanced cellular growth in CD133 expressing cells and enhanced invasion in cells expressing CD44. As with the 4 major molecular subtypes of GBM, there was no long-term survival difference between CD44-M and CD133-M patients, although CD44-M patients responded better to temozolomide while CD133-M patients benefited from radiotherapy. The use of a targeted coexpression approach to predict functional properties of surface marker expressing cells is novel, and in the context of GBM, supports accumulating evidence that CD133 and CD44 protein marker expression correlates with molecular subtype.


cancer genome atlas; cancer stem cells; coexpression; glioblastoma; molecular subtype

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