The enigma of caspase-2: the laymen's view

Cell Death Differ. 2009 Feb;16(2):195-207. doi: 10.1038/cdd.2008.170. Epub 2008 Nov 21.


Proteolysis of cellular substrates by caspases (cysteine-dependent aspartate-specific proteases) is one of the hallmarks of apoptotic cell death. Although the activation of apoptotic caspases is considered a 'late-stage' event in apoptosis signaling, past the commitment stage, one caspase family member, caspase-2, splits the cell death community into half - those searching for evidence of an apical initiator function of this molecule and those considering it as an amplifier of the apoptotic caspase cascade, at best, if relevant for apoptosis at all. This review screens past and present biochemical as well as genetic evidence for caspase-2 function in cell death signaling and beyond.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis
  • CRADD Signaling Adaptor Protein / metabolism
  • Caspase 2 / genetics
  • Caspase 2 / metabolism*
  • Cell Death
  • DNA Damage
  • Signal Transduction
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / genetics
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / metabolism


  • CRADD Signaling Adaptor Protein
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • Caspase 2