The evolutionarily conserved family of proteins called caspases are the main factors mediating the orchestrated programme of cell suicide known as apoptosis. Since this protein family was associated with this essential biological function, the majority of scientific efforts were focused towards understanding their molecular activation and function during cell death. However, an emerging body of evidence has highlighted a repertoire of non-lethal roles within a large variety of cell types, including stem cells. Here we intend to provide a comprehensive overview of the key role of caspases as regulators of stem cell properties. Finally, we briefly discuss the possible pathological consequences of caspase malfunction in stem cells, and the therapeutic potential of caspase regulation applied to this context.
Keywords: Apoptosis; Caspase treatment; Caspases; Non-apoptotic functions; Stem cell.
Copyright © 2017 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.