Proliferative versus apoptotic functions of caspase-8 Hetero or homo: the caspase-8 dimer controls cell fate

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2012 Jan;1824(1):113-22. doi: 10.1016/j.bbapap.2011.06.005. Epub 2011 Jun 16.


Caspase-8, the initiator of extrinsically-triggered apoptosis, also has important functions in cellular activation and differentiation downstream of a variety of cell surface receptors. It has become increasingly clear that the heterodimer of caspase-8 with the long isoform of cellular FLIP (FLIP(L)) fulfills these pro-survival functions of caspase-8. FLIP(L), a catalytically defective caspase-8 paralog, can interact with caspase-8 to activate its catalytic function. The caspase-8/FLIP(L) heterodimer has a restricted substrate repertoire and does not induce apoptosis. In essence, caspase-8 heterodimerized with FLIP(L) prevents the receptor interacting kinases RIPK1 and -3 from executing the form of cell death known as necroptosis. This review discusses the latest insights in caspase-8 homo- versus heterodimerization and the implication this has for cellular death or survival. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Proteolysis 50 years after the discovery of lysosome.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis* / genetics
  • Apoptosis* / physiology
  • CASP8 and FADD-Like Apoptosis Regulating Protein / chemistry
  • CASP8 and FADD-Like Apoptosis Regulating Protein / genetics
  • CASP8 and FADD-Like Apoptosis Regulating Protein / metabolism
  • CASP8 and FADD-Like Apoptosis Regulating Protein / physiology
  • Caspase 8 / chemistry
  • Caspase 8 / genetics
  • Caspase 8 / metabolism*
  • Caspase 8 / physiology*
  • Catalysis
  • Cell Proliferation*
  • Growth and Development / genetics
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Models, Molecular
  • Phylogeny
  • Protein Multimerization / physiology*


  • CASP8 and FADD-Like Apoptosis Regulating Protein
  • Caspase 8