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  • cysteine endopeptidase


The caspases are a family of proteases responsible for carrying out the cell death process. In a living cell, these proteases are kept inactive by proteins on the mitochondrial cell surface from the BcL-2 family. When a cell is exposed to cell death signals such as ischemia, chemotherapy or radiation, BcL-2 function is blocked and caspase activators initiate the cell death cascade.

Definition from: NCI Thesaurus via Unified Medical Language SystemThis link leads to a site outside Genetics Home Reference. at the National Library of Medicine

See also Understanding Medical Terminology.

Published: February 8, 2016