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Biochem Pharmacol. 2008 Dec 1;76(11):1374-82. doi: 10.1016/j.bcp.2008.07.041. Epub 2008 Aug 12.

Cathepsins: key modulators of cell death and inflammatory responses.

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Institute of Pharmacology, University of Bern, Friedb├╝hlstrasse 49, CH-3010 Bern, Switzerland.


Apoptosis is a key mechanism in the build up and maintenance of both innate and adaptive immunity as well as in the regulation of cellular homeostasis in almost every organ and tissue. Central to the apoptotic process is a family of intracellular cysteine proteases with aspartate-specificity, called caspases. Nevertheless, there is growing evidence that other non-caspase proteases, in particular lysosomal cathepsins, can play an important role in the regulation of apoptosis. In this review, the players and the molecular mechanisms involved in the lysosomal apoptotic pathways will be discussed as well as the importance of these pathways in the immune system and the pathogenesis of diseases.

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