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Ann Clin Biochem. 2005 Nov;42(Pt 6):415-31.

Caspase and calpain function in cell death: bridging the gap between apoptosis and necrosis.

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Centre for Experimental Medicine, Nephrology and Critical Care, Renal Research Laboratories, William Harvey Research Institute, John Vane Science Centre, Charterhouse Square, London EC1M 6BQ, UK.


Calpain and caspase are families of cysteine proteases that have important roles in the initiation, regulation and execution of cell death. The function of both groups of proteases in the progression of apoptotic and necrotic pathways is presented here in the context of a concise overview of regulated cell death. Many of the morphological differences between apoptotic and necrotic processes are thought to be as a consequence of the action of cysteine proteases. Recent studies suggest that caspase and calpain cascades are tightly interrelated and an appreciation of how these proteases cross-talk should enable a greater understanding of how the boundaries between apoptotic and necrotic cell death have become blurred. Furthermore, an assessment of the contribution that caspase and calpain make to human physiology and pathology is provided, with a description of how these proteases can be detected and quantified. Lastly, an evaluation is made of how caspase and calpain activation might be exploited diagnostically.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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