Neural stem cells (NSCs) undergo self-renewal and generate neurons and glial cells under the influence of specific signals from surrounding environments. Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is a highly lethal brain tumor arising from NSCs or glial precursor cells owing to dysregulation of transcriptional and epigenetic networks that control self-renewal and differentiation of NSCs. Highly tumorigenic glioblastoma stem cells (GSCs) constitute a small subpopulation of GBM cells, which share several characteristic similarities with NSCs. GSCs exist atop a stem cell hierarchy and generate heterogeneous populations that participate in tumor propagation, drug resistance, and relapse. During multimodal treatment, GSCs de-differentiate and convert into cells with malignant characteristics, and thus play critical roles in tumor propagation. In contrast, differentiation therapy that induces GBM cells or GSCs to differentiate into a neuronal or glial lineage is expected to inhibit their proliferation. Since stem cell differentiation is specified by the cells’ epigenetic status, understanding their stemness and the epigenomic situation in the ancestor, NSCs, is important and expected to be helpful for developing treatment modalities for GBM. Here, we review the current findings regarding the epigenetic regulatory mechanisms of NSC fate in the developing brain, as well as those of GBM and GSCs. Furthermore, considering the similarities between NSCs and GSCs, we also discuss potential new strategies for GBM treatment.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cell Biology
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis