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J Cell Biochem. 1997 Jan;64(1):33-42.

Mammalian cell death proteases: a family of highly conserved aspartate specific cysteine proteases.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, Kimmel Cancer Institute, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107, USA.


So far nine human aspartate-specific cysteine proteases (ASCPs) have been identified and cloned in our lab and others. Their sequence and structural homology to the nematode Ced-3 implicated them in the cell death pathway of mammalian cells. Recent evidence suggests that ASCPs initiate apoptosis by acting at or near the cell death effector level. However, it is not clear whether the activity of one or several of these enzymes is necessary for execution of apoptosis. In addition, it is not yet clear how the proenzymes of ASCPs are activated or what triggers their activation. Execution of apoptosis in higher eukaryotes is apparently more complicated than in nematodes. It is most likely that in mammalian cells this process involves the coordinated action of multiple ASCPs and multiple redundant proteolytic pathways.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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