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Dev Cell. 2009 Jan;16(1):21-34. doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2008.12.012.

The Jekyll and Hyde functions of caspases.

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  • 1Department of Cell Biology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.

Abstract

Apoptosis is an ancient form of regulated cell death that functions under pathological and nonpathological contexts in all metazoans. More than a decade of intense research has led to extensive characterization of the core molecular mechanisms for apoptotic cell death. This includes the identification of a family of cysteine proteases, caspases, which are critical for the execution of apoptosis. Whereas completion of the proteolytic caspase cascade leads to elimination of a cell by apoptosis, caspase activation, when finely tuned, directs alternative cellular functions independent of cell death. Exciting recent developments have focused on uncovering nonapoptotic roles of caspases ranging from immune regulation to spermatogenesis, in highly specialized cellular frameworks.

PMID:
19154716
PMCID:
PMC2850564
DOI:
10.1016/j.devcel.2008.12.012
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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