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Polycomb group (PcG) proteins play an important role in development and stem cell maintenance, and their dysregulation have been closely linked to oncogenesis and cancer stem cell phenotypes. Here, we found that nervous system polycomb 1 (NSPc1) was highly expressed in stem cell-like glioma cells (SLCs). Knockdown of NSPc1 in SLCs resulted in impaired neurosphere formation and self-renewal abilities, down-regulated expression of stemness markers such as NESTIN, CD133 and SOX2, and decreased capacity to propagate subcutaneous xenografts. In contrast, glioma cells overexpressing NSPc1 exhibited a stem cell-like phenotype, up-regulated expression of stemness markers NESTIN, CD133 and SOX2, and an enhanced capacity to propagate subcutaneous xenografts. Furthermore, we identified that NSPc1 epigenetically repressed the expression of retinol dehydrogenase 16 (RDH16) by directly binding to a region upstream (-1073 to - 823) of the RDH16 promoter. Next, we confirmed that RDH16 is a stemness suppressor that partially rescues SLCs from the NSPc1-induced increase in neurosphere formation. Finally, we showed that ATRA partly reversed the NSPc1-induced stemness enhancement in SLCs, through mechanisms correlated with an ATRA-dependent decrease in the expression of NSPc1. Thus, our results demonstrate that NSPc1 promotes cancer stem cell self-renewal by repressing the synthesis of ATRA via targeting RDH16 and may provide novel targets for glioma treatment in the future.