Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC Santa Cruz

UC Santa Cruz Previously Published Works bannerUC Santa Cruz

Identification of a differentiation stall in epithelial mesenchymal transition in histone H3–mutant diffuse midline glioma



Diffuse midline gliomas with histone H3 K27M (H3K27M) mutations occur in early childhood and are marked by an invasive phenotype and global decrease in H3K27me3, an epigenetic mark that regulates differentiation and development. H3K27M mutation timing and effect on early embryonic brain development are not fully characterized.


We analyzed multiple publicly available RNA sequencing datasets to identify differentially expressed genes between H3K27M and non-K27M pediatric gliomas. We found that genes involved in the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) were significantly overrepresented among differentially expressed genes. Overall, the expression of pre-EMT genes was increased in the H3K27M tumors as compared to non-K27M tumors, while the expression of post-EMT genes was decreased. We hypothesized that H3K27M may contribute to gliomagenesis by stalling an EMT required for early brain development, and evaluated this hypothesis by using another publicly available dataset of single-cell and bulk RNA sequencing data from developing cerebral organoids. This analysis revealed similarities between H3K27M tumors and pre-EMT normal brain cells. Finally, a previously published single-cell RNA sequencing dataset of H3K27M and non-K27M gliomas revealed subgroups of cells at different stages of EMT. In particular, H3.1K27M tumors resemble a later EMT stage compared to H3.3K27M tumors.


Our data analyses indicate that this mutation may be associated with a differentiation stall evident from the failure to proceed through the EMT-like developmental processes, and that H3K27M cells preferentially exist in a pre-EMT cell phenotype. This study demonstrates how novel biological insights could be derived from combined analysis of several previously published datasets, highlighting the importance of making genomic data available to the community in a timely manner.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View