Topic Completed: 1 February 2012

Revised: 4 March 2019

Copyright: 2003-2018,, Inc.

PubMed Search: caspases[title]

Caspases topics: Caspase 3, Caspase 7, Caspase 8, Caspase 9

Nat Pernick, M.D.
Page views in 2018: 141
Page views in 2019 to date: 104
Cite this page: Pernick N. Caspases. website. Accessed September 20th, 2019.
Definition / general
  • Cysteine proteases that act as essential initiators and executioners of apoptosis; also involved in necrosis and inflammation (Wikipedia)
  • Also called Cysteine-ASPartic proteASES or Cysteine-dependent ASPartate-directed proteASES
  • Act as apoptotic cell death effectors by cleaving polypeptides on the carboxyl end of aspartate residues
  • Synthesized as inactive proenzymes, may be activated by other caspases (initiator caspases), which cause a cascade of activation similar to coagulation or complement
  • Caspases are signaling proteases, designed for specific protein cleavage and not for protein degradation; they make one or two cuts in their target proteins and do not destroy protein structure, but rather modify it, thus creating gain or loss of function events that drive forward the apoptotic phenotype (J Cell Sci 2010;123:3209)
  • Final targets are nuclear lamins, ICAD/DFF45 (inhibitor of caspase activated DNase or DNA fragmentation factor 45), PARP (poly-ADP ribose polymerase), PAK2 (P 21-activated kinase 2)
  • Cleavage of ICAD allows the release of CAD, which relocalizes from the cytoplasm to the nucleus, where it cleaves genomic DNA
Diagrams / tables

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Intrinisic and extrinsic pathways

Various images

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