Medical Definition of caspase
: any of several intracellular proteases that have a cysteine residue at their active site, that cleave substrate proteins at specific aspartic acid residues, and that are involved in the initiation and mediation of apoptosis … the mitochondria either rupture or leak, ensuring their own demise and releasing a cocktail of factors that trigger protein-splitting enzymes called caspases. The activated caspases then rapidly cleave proteins in the cell's internal skeleton, membranes, and nucleus to bring about the characteristic hallmarks of apoptosis.—Elizabeth Finkel, Science, 27 Apr. 2001 These genes activate the same pathways involved in cellular suicide, or apoptosis. The cells from the Alzheimer's patients had twice as much of a substance, caspase-3, involved in cellular suicide.—Jamie Talan, The Dallas Morning News, 10 June 2000
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