TSPO Membrane Protein Introduction

Introduction of TSPO

Translocator protein (TSPO) is an 18 kDa protein, which is a member of the family of tryptophan-rich sensory proteins. It is mainly found in the outer mitochondrial membrane and can bind a number of benzodiazepine-like drugs, as well as to dicarboxylic tetrapyrrole intermediates of the haem biosynthetic pathway. It also involves the intramitochondrial cholesterol transport and bile acid biosynthesis.

Basic Information of TSPO
Protein Name Translocator protein
Gene Name TSPO
Aliases Mitochondrial benzodiazepine receptor, PKBS, Peripheral-type benzodiazepine receptor, PBR, BZRP, MBR
Organism Homo sapiens (Human)
UniProt ID P30536
Transmembrane Times 5
Length (aa) 169

Function of TSPO Membrane Protein

TSPO has been reported to participate in a variety of biological processes. In animals, it was firstly described as peripheral benzodiazepine receptor (PBR). In the mitochondria, the protein participates in the transport of cholesterol into mitochondria through interacting with StAR (steroidogenic acute regulatory protein). However, the necessity of TSPO in cholesterol transport remains controversial because deletion of TSPO in steroidogenic Leydig cells doesn’t impair synthesis of the steroid testosterone. Besides, TSPO has been shown to regulate heart rate and contractile force by interacting with voltage-dependent calcium channels in cardiac myocytes, mediates apoptosis of thymocytes via reduction of mitochondrial transmembrane potential in lymphatic tissues. TSPO also involves the actions of immune cells, including regulating the oxidative bursts of neutrophils and macrophages, inhibiting the proliferation of lymphoid cells and secretion of cytokines. In the basal land plant Physcomitrella patens, TSPO functions a key role in adaptation to salt stress.

TSPO Membrane Protein IntroductionFig.1 TSPO transcriptional regulation cross-talk between hormone- and redox-sensitive signal transduction pathways. (Gatliff, 2016)

Application of TSPO Membrane Protein in Literature

  1. Turkheimer F.E., et al. The methodology of TSPO imaging with positron emission tomography. Biochem Soc Trans. 2015, 43(4): 586-592. PubMed ID: 26551697

    This article reviews the main methodological aspects of TSPO PET imaging with particular attention to TSPO genetics, cellular heterogeneity.

  2. Gut P. Targeting mitochondrial energy metabolism with TSPO ligands. Biochem Soc Trans. 2015, 43(4): 537-542. PubMed ID: 26551690

    This study indicates that TSPO is significantly upregulated by induction of neuroinflammation and injury, allowing TSPO to be a therapeutic mitochondrial metabolic target.

  3. Selvaraj V., et al. The changing landscape in translocator protein (TSPO) function. Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2015, 26(7): 341-348. PubMed ID: 25801473

    This research shows that TSPO is considered as a structural component of the mitochondrial permeability transition pore (MPTP) and is involved in the transport of cholesterol into mitochondria.

  4. Gatliff J., et al. TSPO is a REDOX regulator of cell mitophagy. Biochem Soc Trans. 2015, 43(4): 543-552. PubMed ID: 26551691

    This review focuses on the interaction between reactive oxygen species (ROS) and the voltage-dependent anion channel (VDAC) and TSPO, which is involved in the regulation of cell mitophagy.

  5. Selvaraj V., et al. Minireview: translocator protein (TSPO) and steroidogenesis: a reappraisal. Mol Endocrinol. 2015, 29(4): 490-501. PubMed ID: 25730708

    This minireview outlines the key studies from 25 years of TSPO research and indicates their limitations about the incorrect understanding of the association of TSPO and steroid hormone production.

TSPO Preparation Options

To obtain the soluble and functional target protein, the versatile Magic™ membrane protein production platform in Creative Biolabs enables many flexible options, from which you can always find a better match for your particular project. Aided by our versatile Magic™ anti-membrane protein antibody discovery platform, we also provide customized anti-TSPO antibody development services.

Creative Biolabs' skillful scientists are glad to leverage our expertise and advanced technologies to help you with the member protein research. If you are interested, please feel free to contact us for more details.


  1. Gatliff J, et al. (2016). TSPO: kaleidoscopic 18-kDa amid biochemical pharmacology, control and targeting of mitochondria. Biochemical Journal. 473(2), 107-121.

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