Transcriptome and proteome analysis reveals the anti-cancer properties of Hypnea musciformis marine macroalga extract in liver and intestinal cancer cells

Hum Genomics. 2023 Jul 31;17(1):71. doi: 10.1186/s40246-023-00517-0.


Background: Marine seaweeds are considered as a rich source of health-promoting compounds by the food and pharmaceutical industry. Hypnea musciformis is a marine red macroalga (seaweed) that is widely distributed throughout the world, including the Mediterranean Sea. It is known to contain various bioactive compounds, including sulfated polysaccharides, flavonoids, and phlorotannins. Recent studies have investigated the potential anticancer effects of extracts from H. musciformis demonstrating their cytotoxic effects on various cancer cell lines. The anticancer effects of these extracts are thought to be due to the presence of bioactive compounds, particularly sulfated polysaccharides, which have been shown to have anticancer and immunomodulatory effects. However, further studies are needed to fully understand the molecular mechanisms that underlie their anticancer effects and to determine their potential as therapeutic agents for cancer treatment.

Methods: H. musciformis was collected from the Aegean Sea (Greece) and used for extract preparation. Transcriptome and proteome analysis was performed in liver and colon cancer human cell lines following treatment with H. musciformis seaweed extracts to characterize its anticancer effect in detail at the molecular level and to link transcriptome and proteome responses to the observed phenotypes in cancer cells.

Results: We have identified that treatment with the seaweed extract triggers a p53-mediated response at the transcriptional and protein level in liver cancer cells, in contrast to colon cancer cells in which the effects are more associated with metabolic changes. Furthermore, we show that in treated HepG2 liver cancer cells, p53 interacts with the chromatin of several target genes and facilitates their upregulation possibly through the recruitment of the p300 co-activator.

Conclusions: Overall, the available evidence suggests that extracts from H. musciformis have the potential to serve as a source of anticancer agents in liver cancer cells mainly through activation of a p53-mediated anti-tumor response that is linked to inhibition of cellular proliferation and induction of cell death.

Keywords: Chemoprevention; Hypnea musciformis; Intestinal cancer; Liver cancer; Marine macroalga (seaweed) extracts; Proteomics; Transcriptomics; p53.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents* / pharmacology
  • Colonic Neoplasms*
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Neoplasms*
  • Liver Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Liver Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Polysaccharides
  • Proteome
  • Seaweed*
  • Transcriptome
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / genetics


  • Proteome
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Polysaccharides
  • Plant Extracts

Supplementary concepts

  • Hypnea