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Caspase-8 triggers inflammatory signaling in multiple ways

Memphis, Tennessee, May 18, 2020

Researcher in fun print shirt looking at camera.

Senior author Douglas Green, PhD, is chair of Immunology at St. Jude.

Caspases are enzymes that control cell death. St. Jude scientists have found how an enzyme called caspase-8 helps cause inflammation.

“Caspase-8 plays a critical role in driving apoptotic cell death. The enzyme also blocks another form of cell death called necroptosis,” said Bart Tummers, PhD, Immunology. “Now we’ve found two ways that caspase-8 triggers inflammation.”  

The scientists studied a rare immune disorder linked to problems with cell death. Caspase-8 is involved in the process. This led to a study of the enzyme’s roles in cell death and inflammation.

The team found proteins that partner with caspase-8 and control the enzyme’s role in immune signaling. They also uncovered the importance of caspase-8’s ability to oligomerize, forming a complex made of multiple copies of the enzyme.

“Caspase-8 plays a role in inflammation that depends on its ability to oligomerize. This process was only observed when neither apoptosis nor necroptosis occurs,” said Douglas Green, PhD, Immunology chair.

Immunity published a report on this work.

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is leading the way the world understands, treats and cures childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. It is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children. Treatments developed at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20% to 80% since the hospital opened more than 50 years ago. St. Jude freely shares the breakthroughs it makes, and every child saved at St. Jude means doctors and scientists worldwide can use that knowledge to save thousands more children. Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing and food — because all a family should worry about is helping their child live. To learn more, visit or follow St. Jude on social media at @stjuderesearch.