Caspases, a family of cysteine proteases, play a central role in apoptosis. During the last decade, major progress has been made to further understand caspase structure and function, providing a unique basis for drug design. This Review gives an overview of caspases and their classification, structure, and substrate specificity. We also describe the current knowledge of how interference with caspase signaling can be used to pharmacologically manipulate cell death.
Inna N. Lavrik, Alexander Golks, Peter H. Krammer