Crystal structure of human caspase-1 (Arg286->Lys) in complex with Z-VAD-FMK (CASP-036)
Unlike necrosis, which involves traumatic cell death resulting from acute cellular injury, apoptosis is a highly regulated process that plays a key role in the lifecycles of multicellular organisms. Apoptosis, or programmed cell death (PCD), is a complex cascade process involving key peptides that are central in physiological and pathological cell death. Over the past several decades, important peptide sequences have been identify that play critical roles in the signal transduction pathway of apoptosis. Specifically, research in this area focusses around peptides related to cysteine-aspartic proteases called caspases, caspase regulatory proteins, such as inhibitors of apoptosis proteins (IAPs), small mitochondria-derived activator of caspases (Smac), and proteins in the B-cell lymphoma 2 (Bcl-2) family. The discovery and design of peptides that play key roles in apoptosis have the potential to provide therapeutic approaches to diseases that disrupt the normal apoptosis process. Neuronal death can result many neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and Huntington’s diseases, stroke, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).