Rockefeller University Press, Journal of Experimental Medicine, 5(216), p. 1071-1090, 2019
Glioblastoma is an incurable brain cancer characterized by high genetic and pathological heterogeneity. Here, we mapped active chromatin landscapes with gene expression, whole exomes, copy number profiles, and DNA methylomes across 44 patient-derived glioblastoma stem cells (GSCs), 50 primary tumors, and 10 neural stem cells (NSCs) to identify essential super-enhancer (SE)–associated genes and the core transcription factors that establish SEs and maintain GSC identity. GSCs segregate into two groups dominated by distinct enhancer profiles and unique developmental core transcription factor regulatory programs. Group-specific transcription factors enforce GSC identity; they exhibit higher activity in glioblastomas versus NSCs, are associated with poor clinical outcomes, and are required for glioblastoma growth in vivo. Although transcription factors are commonly considered undruggable, group-specific enhancer regulation of the MAPK/ERK pathway predicts sensitivity to MEK inhibition. These data demonstrate that transcriptional identity can be leveraged to identify novel dependencies and therapeutic approaches.