Turkish Journal of Biology




Background/aim: Glioblastoma is the most heterogeneous and the most difficult-to-treat type of brain tumor and one of the deadliest among all cancers. The high plasticity of glioma cancer stem cells and the resistance they develop against multiple modalities of therapy, along with their high heterogeneity, are the main challenges faced during treatment of glioblastoma. Therefore, a better understanding of the stemness characteristics of glioblastoma cells is needed. With the development of various single-cell technologies and increasing applications of machine learning, indices based on transcriptomic and/or epigenomic data have been developed to quantitatively measure cellular states and stemness. In this study, we aimed to develop a glioma-specific stemness score model using scATAC-seq data for the first time. Materials and methods: We first applied three powerful machine-learning algorithms, i.e. random forest, gradient boosting, and extreme gradient boosting, to glioblastoma scRNA-seq data to discover the most important genes associated with cellular states. We then identified promoter and enhancer regions associated with these genes. After downloading the scATAC-seq peaks and their read counts for each patient, we identified the overlapping regions between the single-cell peaks and the peaks of genes obtained through machine-learning algorithms. Then we calculated read counts that were mapped to these overlapping regions. We finally developed a model capable of estimating the stemness score for each glioma cell using overlapping regions and the importance of genes predictive of glioblastoma cellular states. We also created an R package, accessible to all researchers regardless of their coding proficiency. Results: Our results showed that mesenchymal-like stem cells display higher stemness scores compared to neural-progenitor-, oligodendrocyte-progenitor-, and astrocyte-like cells. Conclusion: scATAC-seq can be used to assess heterogeneity in glioblastoma and identify cells with high stemness characteristics. The package is publicly available at https://github.com/Necla/StemnesScoRe and includes documentation with implementation of a real-data experiment.


Glioblastoma, machine learning, scATAC-seq, stemness score

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