Molecular mechanisms of caspase regulation during apoptosis

Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2004 Nov;5(11):897-907. doi: 10.1038/nrm1496.


Caspases, which are the executioners of apoptosis, comprise two distinct classes, the initiators and the effectors. Although general structural features are shared between the initiator and the effector caspases, their activation, inhibition and release of inhibition are differentially regulated. Biochemical and structural studies have led to important advances in understanding the underlying molecular mechanisms of caspase regulation. This article reviews these latest advances and describes our present understanding of caspase regulation during apoptosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Motifs
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis*
  • Caspases / metabolism*
  • Enzyme Activation
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Conformation
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid


  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Caspases