Analysis of the regulators of caspase activation by death receptor ligands
In multicellular organisms, appropriate control of apoptosis, or programmed cell death, is critical to homeostasis and health. Death receptor ligands are a family of cytokines that can induce the activation of caspases, the proteases that are the effectors of cell death. To characterize the cell death decision process in human cancer cells, we are combining quantitative measurements from single cells and populations of cells with analysis of ODE-based models of the relevant protein signaling networks. We seek a quantitative understanding of the factors that control caspase activation dynamics; in particular, whether or not caspases are activated, how long is the delay before their activation and how quickly is the activation process completed.