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BioEssays : news and reviews in molecular, cellular and developmental biology

Calpains: intact and active?


PMID 9394623

Abstract

Calpains are a family of calcium-dependent thiol-proteases which are proposed to be involved in many physiological processes as well as pathological conditions. Calpains are likely to be involved in processing of numerous enzymes and cytoskeletal components, thereby linking their activity to a variety of intracellular events. Although widely studied, the precise mechanism(s) involved in calpain activation and activity in vivo remain poorly understood. Initial studies suggested that calpain exists primarily as an inactive proenzyme that required autolytic cleavage for activation. It was also hypothesized that calpain associated with membrane phospholipids, serving to increase calcium sensitivity, facilitating autolytic conversion and thus activating the enzyme. These hypotheses, however, have not been universally accepted and there is increasing evidence that intact, non-autolyzed calpain is the physiologically active calpain form.