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

Ann Clin Biochem 2005;42:415-431
doi:10.1258/000456305774538238
© 2005 Association for Clinical Biochemistry

 

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Steven M Harwood,
Muhammad M Yaqoob and
David A Allen


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;
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;
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 thathave important roles in the initiation, regulation and executionof cell death. The function of both groups of proteases in theprogression of apoptotic and necrotic pathways is presentedhere in the context of a concise overview of regulated celldeath. Many of the morphological differences between apoptoticand necrotic processes are thought to be as a consequence ofthe action of cysteine proteases. Recent studies suggest thatcaspase and calpain cascades are tightly interrelated and anappreciation of how these proteases cross-talk should enablea greater understanding of how the boundaries between apoptoticand necrotic cell death have become blurred. Furthermore, anassessment of the contribution that caspase and calpain maketo human physiology and pathology is provided, with a descriptionof how these proteases can be detected and quantified. Lastly,an evaluation is made of how caspase and calpain activationmight be exploited diagnostically.

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