Caspases: an ancient cellular sword of Damocles.
Caspases are a family of cysteine proteases homologous to the Caenorhabditis elegans programmed cell death gene product CED-3. Caspases and their distant relatives, meta- and paracaspases, have been found in phylogenetically distant nonmetazoan groups, including plants, fungi and prokaryotes. This review summarizes the current information on the mechanisms and functions of non-mammalian caspases and their relatives in apoptotic and nonapoptotic processes, and explores the possible evolutionary origin of the caspase family.
Boyce, M; Degterev, A; Yuan, J
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