Caspases Connect Cell-Death Signaling to Organismal Homeostasis
Some forms of regulated cell death, such as apoptosis, are precipitated by the activation of cysteine proteases of the caspase family, including caspase 8, 9, and 3. Other caspases, such as caspase 1 and 4, are well known for their pro-inflammatory functions but regulate cell death in a limited number of pathophysiological settings. Accumulating evidence suggests that the most conserved function of mammalian caspases is not to control cell death sensu stricto, but to regulate inflammatory and immune reactions to dying cells and infectious challenges. Here, we review the molecular and cellular mechanisms though which mammalian caspases connect cell-death signaling to the maintenance of organismal homeostasis.