Unregulated apoptosis can be due to a disruption in the balance and control of both intra- and inter-cellular proteolytic activities leading to various disease states. Many proteases involved in apoptotic processes are yet to be identified; however, several are already well characterized. Caspases traditionally held the predominant role as prime mediators of execution. However, latterly, evidence has accumulated that non-caspases, including calpains, cathepsins, granzymes and the proteasome have roles in mediating and promoting cell death. Increasingly, research is implicating serine proteases within apoptotic processing, particularly in the generation of nuclear events such as condensation, fragmentation and DNA degradation observed in late-stage apoptosis. Serine proteases therefore are emerging as providing additional or alternative therapeutic targets.

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