The CASBAH: a searchable database of caspase substrates

Cell Death Differ. 2007 Apr;14(4):641-50. doi: 10.1038/sj.cdd.4402103. Epub 2007 Feb 2.


Apoptosis is coordinated by members of the caspase family of aspartic acid-specific proteases. Other members of this protease family also play essential roles in inflammation where they participate in the maturation of pro-inflammatory cytokines. To date, almost 400 substrates for the apoptosis-associated caspases have been reported and there are likely to be hundreds more yet to be discovered. Thus, the fraction of the proteome that is degraded (the degradome) by caspases during the demolition phase of apoptosis appears to be quite substantial. Despite this, we still know surprisingly little concerning how caspases provoke some of the signature events in apoptosis, such as membrane phosphatidylserine externalization, cellular retraction, chromatin condensation and apoptotic body production. The inflammatory caspases appear to be much more specific proteases than those involved in apoptosis and only two confirmed substrates for these proteases have been described to date. Here, we have compiled a comprehensive list of caspase substrates and describe a searchable web resource (The Casbah; which contains information pertaining to all currently known caspase substrates. We also discuss some of the unresolved issues relating to caspase-dependent events in apoptosis and inflammation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Caspases / chemistry
  • Caspases / classification*
  • Caspases / metabolism*
  • Databases, Protein*
  • Enzyme Activation
  • Humans
  • Information Storage and Retrieval
  • Inhibitor of Apoptosis Proteins / chemistry
  • Inhibitor of Apoptosis Proteins / metabolism*
  • Internet
  • Models, Biological
  • Proteins / chemistry
  • Proteins / metabolism*
  • Proteome / chemistry
  • Proteome / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Substrate Specificity
  • User-Computer Interface


  • Inhibitor of Apoptosis Proteins
  • Proteins
  • Proteome
  • Caspases