Mitotic catastrophe is an oncosuppressive mechanism that targets cells experiencing defective mitoses via the activation of specific cell cycle checkpoints, regulated cell death pathways and/or cell senescence. This prevents the accumulation of karyotypic aberrations, which otherwise may drive oncogenesis and tumor progression. Here, we summarize experimental evidence confirming the role of caspase 2 (CASP2) as the main executor of mitotic catastrophe, and we discuss the signals that activate CASP2 in the presence of mitotic aberrations. In addition, we summarize the main p53-dependent and -independent effector pathways through which CASP2 limits chromosomal instability and non-diploidy, hence mediating robust oncosuppressive functions.
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