TBBS Fellow in Dr. Jeremy Chambers’ Lab
Translocator protein 18kDa (TSPO) levels increase rapidly during brain injury, neuroinflammation, and in neurodegenerative disorders concurrent to the proliferation of microglia; however, the molecular function of TSPO in microglia has yet to be determined. TSPO is a transmembrane protein that spans the outer mitochondrial membrane, and mutations in TSPO are linked to mitochondrial metabolic deficiencies, including neurosteroid production. Recent studies suggest that TSPO can also affect the heme metabolism, and our bioinformatic analyses of TSPO structure reveal critical elements for heme binding are present in TSPO. Thus, the goal of Victoria’s research is to analyze heme metabolism and transport in wild type and TSPO-deficient microglia using metabolomic, proteomic, and established biochemical approaches to define the relationship between TSPO and heme metabolism and to provide insight into the functional significance of TSPO upregulation in human neurological disease.