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Open Access Research article

A REST derived gene signature stratifies glioblastomas into chemotherapy resistant and responsive disease

Matthew P Wagoner12 and Avtar Roopra13*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Neuroscience, University of Wisconsin at Madison, Madison, USA

2 Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology Graduate Program, University of Wisconsin at Madison, Madison, USA

3 Medical Science Center, Room 5675, University of Wisconsin at Madison, 1300 University Ave, Madison, WI, 53706, USA

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BMC Genomics 2012, 13:686  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-13-686

Published: 7 December 2012



Glioblastomas are the most common central nervous system neoplasia in adults, with 9,000 cases in the US annually. Glioblastoma multiformae, the most aggressive glioma subtype, has an 18% one-year survival rate, and 3% two year survival rate. Recent work has highlighted the role of the transcription factor RE1 Silencing Transcription Factor, REST in glioblastoma but how REST function correlates with disease outcome has not been described.


Using a bioinformatic approach and mining of publicly available microarray datasets, we describe an aggressive subtype of gliomas defined by a gene signature derived from REST. Using this REST gene signature we predict that REST function is enhanced in advanced glioblastoma. We compare disease outcomes between tumors based on REST status and treatment regimen, and describe downstream targets of REST that may contribute to the decreased benefits observed with high dose chemotherapy in REM tumors.


We present human data showing that patients with “REST Enhanced Malignancies” (REM) tumors present with a shorter disease free survival compared to non-REM gliomas. Importantly, REM tumors are refractory to multiple rounds of chemotherapy and patients fail to respond to this line of treatment.


This report is the first to describe a REST gene signature that predicts response to multiple rounds of chemotherapy, the mainline therapy for this disease. The REST gene signature may have important clinical implications for the treatment of glioblastoma.

REST; RE1; NRSE; NRSF; Glioblastoma; Patient data; Chemotherapy; Bioinformatics