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Aspasing Out Metacaspases and Caspases: Proteases of Many Trades

Execution of programmed cell death (PCD) in nonmetazoan organisms is morphologically different from apoptotic PCD in animals and lacks a number of key molecular components of apoptotic machinery, including caspases. Yet protozoan, fungal, and plant cells exhibit caspase-like proteolytic activities, which increase in a PCD-dependent manner. This poses a question whether nonmetazoan organisms contain structurally dissimilar proteases that functionally substitute for caspases. Putative ancestors of caspases, metacaspases, are candidates for this role; however, their distinct substrate specificity raises doubts. The identification of a common biological target of caspases and metacaspases and previously unknown functions unrelated to cell death of metacaspases provide new food for thought.

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Resource Type: Bibliography, Diagram, Illustration, Journal article/Issue, Review
Audience Level: Undergraduate upper division 15-16, Graduate, Professional (degree program)

Author and Copyright

Authors and Editors: Peter V. Bozhkov of Uppsala BioCenter, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Andrei P. Smertenko of School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, University of Durham, Boris Zhivotovsky of Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet
Publisher: American Association for the Advancement of Science
Format: application/pdf, image/gif, image/jpeg, text/html
Copyright and other restrictions: Yes
Cost: Yes


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