Thymosin beta-4

Last updated
Available structures
PDB Human UniProt search: PDBe RCSB
Aliases TMSB4X , FX, PTMB4, TB4X, TMSB4, thymosin beta 4, X-linked, thymosin beta 4 X-linked
External IDs OMIM: 300159 GeneCards: TMSB4X
RefSeq (mRNA)



RefSeq (protein)



Location (UCSC) Chr X: 12.98 – 12.98 Mb n/a
PubMed search [2] n/a
View/Edit Human

Thymosin beta-4 is a protein that in humans is encoded by the TMSB4X gene. [3] [4] [5] Recommended INN (International Nonproprietary Name) for thymosin beta-4 is 'timbetasin', as published by the World Health Organization (WHO). [6]


The protein consists (in humans) of 43 amino acids (sequence: SDKPDMAEI EKFDKSKLKK TETQEKNPLP SKETIEQEKQ AGES) and has a molecular weight of 4921 g/mol. [7]

Thymosin-β4 is a major cellular constituent in many tissues. Its intracellular concentration may reach as high as 0.5 mM. [8] Following Thymosin α1, β4 was the second of the biologically active peptides from Thymosin Fraction 5 to be completely sequenced and synthesized. [9]


This gene encodes an actin sequestering protein which plays a role in regulation of actin polymerization. The protein is also involved in cell proliferation, migration, and differentiation. This gene escapes X inactivation and has a homolog on chromosome Y (TMSB4Y). [5]

Biological activities of thymosin β4

Any concepts of the biological role of thymosin β4 must inevitably be coloured by the demonstration that total ablation of the thymosin β4 gene in the mouse allows apparently normal embryonic development of mice which are fertile as adults. [10]

Actin binding

Thymosin β4 was initially perceived as a thymic hormone. However this changed when it was discovered that it forms a 1:1 complex with G (globular) actin, and is present at high concentration in a wide range of mammalian cell types. [11] When appropriate, G-actin monomers polymerize to form F (filamentous) actin, which, together with other proteins that bind to actin, comprise cellular microfilaments. Formation by G-actin of the complex with β-thymosin (= "sequestration") opposes this.[ citation needed ]

Due to its profusion in the cytosol and its ability to bind G-actin but not F-actin, thymosin β4 is regarded as the principal actin-sequestering protein in many cell types. Thymosin β4 functions like a buffer for monomeric actin as represented in the following reaction: [12]

F-actin ↔ G-actin + Thymosin β4 ↔ G-actin/Thymosin β4

Release of G-actin monomers from thymosin β4 occurs as part of the mechanism that drives actin polymerization in the normal function of the cytoskeleton in cell morphology and cell motility.

The sequence LKKTET, which starts at residue 17 of the 43-aminoacid sequence of thymosin beta-4, and is strongly conserved between all β-thymosins, together with a similar sequence in WH2 domains, is frequently referred to as "the actin-binding motif" of these proteins, although modelling based on X-ray crystallography has shown that essentially the entire length of the β-thymosin sequence interacts with actin in the actin-thymosin complex. [13]


In addition to its intracellular role as the major actin-sequestering molecule in cells of many multicellular animals, thymosin β4 shows a remarkably diverse range of effects when present in the fluid surrounding animal tissue cells. Taken together, these effects suggest that thymosin has a general role in tissue regeneration. This has suggested a variety of possible therapeutic applications, and several have now been extended to animal models and human clinical trials.[ citation needed ]

It is considered unlikely that thymosin β4 exerts all these effects via intracellular sequestration of G-actin. This would require its uptake by cells, and moreover, in most cases the cells affected already have substantial intracellular concentrations.[ citation needed ]

The diverse activities related to tissue repair may depend on interactions with receptors quite distinct from actin and possessing extracellular ligand-binding domains. Such multi-tasking by, or "partner promiscuity" of, proteins has been referred to as protein moonlighting. [14] Proteins such as thymosins which lack stable folded structure in aqueous solution, are known as intrinsically unstructured proteins (IUPs). Because IUPs acquire specific folded structures only on binding to their partner proteins, they offer special possibilities for interaction with multiple partners. [15] A candidate extracellular receptor of high affinity for thymosin β4 is the β subunit of cell surface-located ATP synthase, which would allow extracellular thymosin to signal via a purinergic receptor. [16]

Some of the multiple activities of thymosin β4 unrelated to actin may be mediated by a tetrapeptide enzymically cleaved from its N-terminus, N-acetyl-ser-asp-lys-pro, brand names Seraspenide or Goralatide, best known as an inhibitor of the proliferation of haematopoietic (blood-cell precursor) stem cells of bone marrow.

Tissue regeneration

Work with cell cultures and experiments with animals have shown that administration of thymosin β4 can promote migration of cells, formation of blood vessels, maturation of stem cells, survival of various cell types and lowering of the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. These multiple properties have provided the impetus for a worldwide series of on-going clinical trials of potential effectiveness of thymosin β4 in promoting repair of wounds in skin, cornea and heart. [17]

Such tissue-regenerating properties of thymosin β4 may ultimately contribute to repair of human heart muscle damaged by heart disease and heart attack. In mice, administration of thymosin β4 has been shown to stimulate formation of new heart muscle cells from otherwise inactive precursor cells present in the outer lining of adult hearts, [18] to induce migration of these cells into heart muscle [19] and recruit new blood vessels within the muscle. [20]

Anti-inflammatory role for sulfoxide

In 1999 researchers in Glasgow University found that an oxidised derivative of thymosin β4 (the sulfoxide, in which an oxygen atom is added to the methionine near the N-terminus) exerted several potentially anti-inflammatory effects on neutrophil leucocytes. It promoted their dispersion from a focus, inhibited their response to a small peptide (F-Met-Leu-Phe) which attracts them to sites of bacterial infection and lowered their adhesion to endothelial cells. (Adhesion to endothelial cells of blood vessel walls is pre-requisite for these cells to leave the bloodstream and invade infected tissue). A possible anti-inflammatory role for the β4 sulfoxide was supported by the group's finding that it counteracted artificially-induced inflammation in mice.[ citation needed ]

The group had first identified the thymosin sulfoxide as an active factor in culture fluid of cells responding to treatment with a steroid hormone, suggesting that its formation might form part of the mechanism by which steroids exert anti-inflammatory effects. Extracellular thymosin β4 would be readily oxidised to the sulfoxide in vivo at sites of inflammation, by the respiratory burst. [21]

Terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase

Thymosin β4 induces the activity of the enzyme terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase in populations of thymocytes (thymus-derived lymphocytes). This suggests that the peptide may contribute to the maturation of these cells. [9]

Clinical significance

Tβ4 has been studied in a number of clinical trials. [22]

In phase 2 trials with patients having pressure ulcers, venous pressure ulcers, and epidermolysis bullosa, Tβ4 accelerated the rate of repair. It was also found to be safe and well tolerated. [23]

In human clinical trials, Tβ4 improves the conditions of dry eye and neurotrophic keratopathy with effects lasting long after the end of treatment. [24]

Doping in sports

Thymosin beta-4 is considered a performance enhancing substance and is banned in sports by the World Anti-Doping Agency due to its effect of aiding soft tissue recovery and enabling higher training loads. [25] It was central to two controversies in Australia in the 2010s which saw a large proportion of the playing lists from two professional football clubs – the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks of the National Rugby League and the Essendon Football Club of the Australian Football League – found guilty of doping and suspended from playing; in both cases, the players were administered thymosin beta-4 in a program organised by sports scientist Stephen Dank. [26] [27] [28]


TMSB4X has been shown to interact with ACTA1 [29] [30] and ACTG1. [31] [32]

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Actin</span> Family of proteins

Actin is a family of globular multi-functional proteins that form microfilaments in the cytoskeleton, and the thin filaments in muscle fibrils. It is found in essentially all eukaryotic cells, where it may be present at a concentration of over 100 μM; its mass is roughly 42 kDa, with a diameter of 4 to 7 nm.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Thymosin</span>

Thymosins are small proteins present in many animal tissues. They are named thymosins because they were originally isolated from the thymus, but most are now known to be present in many other tissues. Thymosins have diverse biological activities, and two in particular, thymosins α1 and β4, have potentially important uses in medicine, some of which have already progressed from the laboratory to the clinic. In relation to diseases, thymosins have been categorized as biological response modifiers. Thymosins are important for proper T-cell development and differentiation.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Stathmin</span> Protein in Eukaryotes

Stathmin, also known as metablastin and oncoprotein 18 is a protein that in humans is encoded by the STMN1 gene.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Profilin</span> Actin-binding protein

Profilin is an actin-binding protein involved in the dynamic turnover and reconstruction of the actin cytoskeleton. It is found in most eukaryotic organisms. Profilin is important for spatially and temporally controlled growth of actin microfilaments, which is an essential process in cellular locomotion and cell shape changes. This restructuring of the actin cytoskeleton is essential for processes such as organ development, wound healing, and the hunting down of infectious intruders by cells of the immune system.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">CXCL7</span> Mammalian protein found in Homo sapiens

Chemokine ligand 7 (CXCL7) is a human gene.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Actin, alpha skeletal muscle</span> Protein-coding gene in the species Homo sapiens

Actin, alpha skeletal muscle is a protein that in humans is encoded by the ACTA1 gene.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Beta-actin</span> Protein-coding gene in the species Homo sapiens

Actin beta is one of six different actin isoforms which have been identified in humans. This is one of the two nonmuscle cytoskeletal actins. Actins are highly conserved proteins that are involved in cell motility, structure and integrity. Alpha actins are a major constituent of the contractile apparatus.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Actin, cytoplasmic 2</span> Protein-coding gene in the species Homo sapiens

Actin, cytoplasmic 2, or gamma-actin is a protein that in humans is encoded by the ACTG1 gene. Gamma-actin is widely expressed in cellular cytoskeletons of many tissues; in adult striated muscle cells, gamma-actin is localized to Z-discs and costamere structures, which are responsible for force transduction and transmission in muscle cells. Mutations in ACTG1 have been associated with nonsyndromic hearing loss and Baraitser-Winter syndrome, as well as susceptibility of adolescent patients to vincristine toxicity.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">SPTB</span> Protein-coding gene in the species Homo sapiens

Spectrin beta chain, erythrocyte is a protein that in humans is encoded by the SPTB gene.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">MSMB</span> Animal protein produced in the prostate

Beta-microseminoprotein is a protein that in humans is encoded by the MSMB gene. For historical reasons, the scientific literature may also refer to this protein as Prostate secretory protein 94 (PSP94), microseminoprotein (MSP), microseminoprotein-beta (MSMB), beta-inhibitin, prostatic inhibin peptide (PIP), and inhibitin like material (ILM).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">ACTG2</span> Protein-coding gene in the species Homo sapiens

Actin, gamma-enteric smooth muscle is a protein that in humans is encoded by the ACTG2 gene.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">TMSB10</span> Protein-coding gene in the species Homo sapiens

Thymosin beta-10 is a protein that in humans is encoded by the TMSB10 gene. TMSB10 is a member of the beta-thymosin family of peptides.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Thymosin beta-4, Y-chromosomal</span> Protein-coding gene in the species Homo sapiens

Thymosin beta-4, Y-chromosomal is a protein that in humans is encoded by the TMSB4Y gene.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">CAP1</span> Gene of the species Homo sapiens

Adenylyl cyclase-associated protein 1 is an enzyme that in humans is encoded by the CAP1 gene.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">PTMS (gene)</span> Protein-coding gene in the species Homo sapiens

Parathymosin is a protein that in humans is encoded by the PTMS gene.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">CAPZB</span> Protein-coding gene in the species Homo sapiens

F-actin-capping protein subunit beta, also known as CapZβ is a protein that in humans is encoded by the CAPZB gene. CapZβ functions to cap actin filaments at barbed ends in muscle and other tissues.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">MSRB2</span> Protein-coding gene in the species Homo sapiens

Methionine-R-sulfoxide reductase B2, mitochondrial is an enzyme that in humans is encoded by the MSRB2 gene. The MRSB2 enzyme catalyzes the reduction of methionine sulfoxide to methionine.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">TMSB15A</span> Protein-coding gene in the species Homo sapiens

Thymosin beta-15A is a protein that in humans is encoded by the TMSB15A gene.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Thymosin α1</span> Protein-coding gene in the species Homo sapiens

Thymosin α1 is a peptide fragment derived from prothymosin alpha, a protein that in humans is encoded by the PTMA gene.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Beta thymosins</span>

Beta thymosins are a family of proteins which have in common a sequence of about 40 amino acids similar to the small protein thymosin β4. They are found almost exclusively in multicellular animals. Thymosin β4 was originally obtained from the thymus in company with several other small proteins which although named collectively "thymosins" are now known to be structurally and genetically unrelated and present in many different animal tissues.


  1. 1 2 3 GRCh38: Ensembl release 89: ENSG00000205542 - Ensembl, May 2017
  2. "Human PubMed Reference:". National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine.
  3. Gómez-Márquez J, Dosil M, Segade F, Bustelo XR, Pichel JG, Dominguez F, Freire M (Oct 1989). "Thymosin-beta 4 gene. Preliminary characterization and expression in tissues, thymic cells, and lymphocytes". Journal of Immunology. 143 (8): 2740–4. doi:10.4049/jimmunol.143.8.2740. PMID   2677145.
  4. Lahn BT, Page DC (Oct 1997). "Functional coherence of the human Y chromosome". Science. 278 (5338): 675–80. Bibcode:1997Sci...278..675L. doi:10.1126/science.278.5338.675. PMID   9381176.
  5. 1 2 "Entrez Gene: TMSB4X thymosin, beta 4, X-linked".
  6. "Lists of Recommended and Proposed INNs: List 80". 2018. Archived from the original on September 14, 2008.
  7. "protein NP_066932". NCBI.
  8. Hannappel E (September 2007). "beta-Thymosins". Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 1112 (1): 21–37. Bibcode:2007NYASA1112...21H. doi:10.1196/annals.1415.018. PMID   17468232. S2CID   222082792.
  9. 1 2 Low TL, Hu SK, Goldstein AL (February 1981). "Complete amino acid sequence of bovine thymosin beta 4: a thymic hormone that induces terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase activity in thymocyte populations". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 78 (2): 1162–6. Bibcode:1981PNAS...78.1162L. doi: 10.1073/pnas.78.2.1162 . PMC   319967 . PMID   6940133.
  10. Banerjee I, Zhang J, Moore-Morris T, Lange S, Shen T, Dalton ND, Gu Y, Peterson KL, Evans SM, Chen J (Feb 2012). "Thymosin beta 4 is dispensable for murine cardiac development and function". Circ Res. 110 (3): 456–64. doi:10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.111.258616. PMC   3739283 . PMID   22158707.
  11. Safer D, Elzinga M, Nachmias VT (March 1991). "Thymosin beta 4 and Fx, an actin-sequestering peptide, are indistinguishable". J. Biol. Chem. 266 (7): 4029–32. doi: 10.1016/S0021-9258(20)64278-8 . PMID   1999398.
  12. Lodish, Harvey F. (2000). "Chapter 18. Cell Motility and Shape I: Microfilaments. 18.2. The Dynamics of Actin Assembly". Molecular cell biology . San Francisco: W.H. Freeman. ISBN   978-0-7167-3706-3.
  13. Xue B, Aguda AH, Robinson RC (September 2007). "Models of the actin-bound forms of the beta-thymosins". Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 1112 (1): 56–66. Bibcode:2007NYASA1112...56X. doi:10.1196/annals.1415.010. PMID   17468228. S2CID   26966098.
  14. Jeffery CJ (January 1999). "Moonlighting proteins". Trends Biochem. Sci. 24 (1): 8–11. doi:10.1016/S0968-0004(98)01335-8. PMID   10087914.
  15. Tompa P, Szász C, Buday L (September 2005). "Structural disorder throws new light on moonlighting". Trends Biochem. Sci. 30 (9): 484–9. doi:10.1016/j.tibs.2005.07.008. PMID   16054818.
  16. Freeman KW, Bowman BR, Zetter BR (November 2010). "Regenerative protein thymosin {beta}-4 is a novel regulator of purinergic signaling". FASEB J. 25 (3): 907–15. doi: 10.1096/fj.10-169417 . PMID   21106936. S2CID   1684588.
  17. Philp D, Kleinman HK (April 2010). "Animal studies with thymosin beta, a multifunctional tissue repair and regeneration peptide". Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 1194 (1): 81–6. Bibcode:2010NYASA1194...81P. doi:10.1111/j.1749-6632.2010.05479.x. PMID   20536453. S2CID   19780581.
  18. Smart N, Bollini S, Dubé KN, Vieira JM, Zhou B, Davidson S, Yellon D, Riegler J, Price AN, Lythgoe MF, Pu WT, Riley PR (June 2011). "De novo cardiomyocytes from within the activated adult heart after injury". Nature. 474 (7353): 640–4. doi:10.1038/nature10188. PMC   3696525 . PMID   21654746.
  19. Smart N, Riley PR (February 2009). "Derivation of epicardium-derived progenitor cells (EPDCs) from adult epicardium". Current Protocols in Stem Cell Biology. Vol. 8. Unit2C.2. doi:10.1002/9780470151808.sc02c02s8. ISBN   978-0470151808. PMID   19235142.{{cite book}}: |journal= ignored (help)
  20. Riley PR, Smart N (December 2009). "Thymosin beta4 induces epicardium-derived neovascularization in the adult heart". Biochem. Soc. Trans. 37 (Pt 6): 1218–20. doi:10.1042/BST0371218. PMID   19909250.
  21. Young JD, Lawrence AJ, MacLean AG, Leung BP, McInnes IB, Canas B, Pappin DJ, Stevenson RD (December 1999). "Thymosin beta 4 sulfoxide is an anti-inflammatory agent generated by monocytes in the presence of glucocorticoids". Nature Medicine. 5 (12): 1424–7. doi:10.1038/71002. PMID   10581087. S2CID   19680965.
  22. Crockford D, Turjman N, Allan C, Angel J (April 2010). "Thymosin beta4: structure, function, and biological properties supporting current and future clinical applications". Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 1194 (1): 179–89. Bibcode:2010NYASA1194..179C. doi:10.1111/j.1749-6632.2010.05492.x. PMID   20536467. S2CID   29360082.
  23. Kleinman HK, Sosne G (2016). "Thymosin β4 Promotes Dermal Healing". Thymosins. review. Vol. 102. pp. 251–75. doi:10.1016/bs.vh.2016.04.005. ISBN   9780128048184. PMID   27450738.{{cite book}}: |journal= ignored (help)
  24. Sosne G, Kleinman HK (August 2015). "Primary Mechanisms of Thymosin β4 Repair Activity in Dry Eye Disorders and Other Tissue Injuries". Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science. 56 (9): 5110–7. doi: 10.1167/iovs.15-16890 . PMID   26241398.
  25. "CAS 2015/A/4059 World Anti-Doping Agency v. Thomas Bellchambers et al., Australian Football League, Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority" (PDF). 2016. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 20 March 2016.
  26. Koh B (7 March 2013). "Cronulla Sharks and thymosin beta-4 ... is it doping?". The Conversation.
  27. Ho EN, Kwok WH, Lau MY, Wong AS, Wan TS, Lam KK, Schiff PJ, Stewart BD (Nov 2012). "Doping control analysis of TB-500, a synthetic version of an active region of thymosin β4, in equine urine and plasma by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry". Journal of Chromatography A. 1265: 57–69. doi:10.1016/j.chroma.2012.09.043. PMID   23084823.
  28. "Essendon supplements saga: ASADA backs Court of Arbitration for Sport decision to upheld WADA appeal". ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). 11 January 2016.
  29. Ballweber E, Hannappel E, Huff T, Stephan H, Haener M, Taschner N, Stoffler D, Aebi U, Mannherz HG (Jan 2002). "Polymerisation of chemically cross-linked actin:thymosin beta(4) complex to filamentous actin: alteration in helical parameters and visualisation of thymosin beta(4) binding on F-actin". Journal of Molecular Biology. 315 (4): 613–25. doi:10.1006/jmbi.2001.5281. PMID   11812134.
  30. Safer D, Sosnick TR, Elzinga M (May 1997). "Thymosin beta 4 binds actin in an extended conformation and contacts both the barbed and pointed ends". Biochemistry. 36 (19): 5806–16. doi:10.1021/bi970185v. PMID   9153421.
  31. Hertzog M, van Heijenoort C, Didry D, Gaudier M, Coutant J, Gigant B, Didelot G, Préat T, Knossow M, Guittet E, Carlier MF (May 2004). "The beta-thymosin/WH2 domain; structural basis for the switch from inhibition to promotion of actin assembly". Cell. 117 (5): 611–23. doi: 10.1016/S0092-8674(04)00403-9 . PMID   15163409.
  32. Van Troys M, Dewitte D, Goethals M, Carlier MF, Vandekerckhove J, Ampe C (Jan 1996). "The actin binding site of thymosin beta 4 mapped by mutational analysis". The EMBO Journal. 15 (2): 201–10. doi:10.1002/j.1460-2075.1996.tb00350.x. PMC   449934 . PMID   8617195.

Further reading