Cellular mechanisms controlling caspase activation and function.
Caspases are the primary drivers of apoptotic cell death, cleaving cellular proteins that are critical for dismantling the dying cell. Initially translated as inactive zymogenic precursors, caspases are activated in response to a variety of cell death stimuli. In addition to factors required for their direct activation (e.g., dimerizing adaptor proteins in the case of initiator caspases that lie at the apex of apoptotic signaling cascades), caspases are regulated by a variety of cellular factors in a myriad of physiological and pathological settings. For example, caspases may be modified posttranslationally (e.g., by phosphorylation or ubiquitylation) or through interaction of modulatory factors with either the zymogenic or active form of a caspase, altering its activation and/or activity. These regulatory events may inhibit or enhance enzymatic activity or may affect activity toward particular cellular substrates. Finally, there is emerging literature to suggest that caspases can participate in a variety of cellular processes unrelated to apoptotic cell death. In these settings, it is particularly important that caspases are maintained under stringent control to avoid inadvertent cell death. It is likely that continued examination of these processes will reveal new mechanisms of caspase regulation with implications well beyond control of apoptotic cell death.
Parrish, AB; Freel, CD; Kornbluth, S
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