A primer on caspase mechanisms

Semin Cell Dev Biol. 2018 Oct;82:79-85. doi: 10.1016/j.semcdb.2018.01.002. Epub 2018 Jan 12.


Caspases belong to a diverse clan of proteolytic enzymes known as clan CD with highly disparate functions in cell signaling. The caspase members of this clan are only found in animals, and most of them orchestrate the demise of cells by the highly distinct regulated cell death phenotypes known as apoptosis and pyroptosis. This review looks at the mechanistic distinctions between the activity and activation mechanisms of mammalian caspases compared to other members of clan CD. We also compare and contrast the role of different caspase family members that program anti-inflammatory and pro-inflammatory cell death pathways.

Keywords: Apoptosis; Gasdermin; Protease; Pyroptosis; Regulated cell death.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Caspases / metabolism*
  • Humans


  • Caspases