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Caspases are a family of cysteine proteases that respond in succession when activated by apoptosis stimuli, leading to proteolysis, cell disassembly, and apoptosis. The caspase cascade can be triggered by stimuli from the cell surface or the mitochondria. Pro-apoptotic stimuli, such as TNF (Tumor Necrosis Factor), FasL (Fas Ligand), GRB (Growth Factor Receptor-Bound Protein), Granzyme-B, DNA damage, calcium channels, etc., are linked with initiator caspases (caspase 2, 8, 9, 10). When stimulated, initiator caspases cleave and trigger downstream executioner caspases (caspase 3, 6, 7) which further cleave other proteins, eventually resulting in cell death. The caspase cascade pathway plays a key role in several neurodegenerative disorders, including Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, tumorigenesis, and autoimmune disorders.
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