Calpains for dummies: What you need to know about the calpain family

Biochim Biophys Acta Proteins Proteom. 2021 May;1869(5):140616. doi: 10.1016/j.bbapap.2021.140616. Epub 2021 Feb 3.


This review was written in memory of our late friend, Dr. Hiroyuki Sorimachi, who, following the steps of his mentor Koichi Suzuki, a pioneer in calpain research, has made tremendous contributions to the field. During his career, Hiro also wrote several reviews on calpain, the last of which, published in 2016, was comprehensive. In this manuscript, we decided to put together a review with the basic information a novice may need to know about calpains. We also tried to avoid similarities with previous reviews and reported the most significant new findings, at the same time highlighting Hiro's contributions to the field. The review will cover a short history of calpain discovery, the presentation of the family, the life of calpain from transcription to activity, human diseases caused by calpain mutations and therapeutic perspectives.

Keywords: Calcium; Calpain; Cysteine protease.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Calpain / genetics
  • Calpain / metabolism
  • Calpain / physiology*
  • Genetic Diseases, Inborn / genetics
  • Genetic Diseases, Inborn / therapy
  • Genetic Therapy
  • Humans
  • Lysosomes / metabolism
  • Mutation
  • Proteasome Endopeptidase Complex / metabolism
  • Proteolysis


  • Calpain
  • Proteasome Endopeptidase Complex