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Oligomerization is an important biological mechanism for regulating signal transduction. Activation of caspases during apoptosis is triggered by adaptor protein-mediated oligomerization of initiator procaspases. To facilitate the study of initiator caspase activation, a system that allows inducible activation of various caspases both in vitro and in vivo is highly desired. Here we describe such a caspase activation system that is based on FK506 binding protein (FKBP)-mediated oligomerization. The NH2-terminal prodomains of initiator procaspases that facilitate the interaction between procaspases and their adaptor proteins are replaced by a derivative of FKBP called Fv. The Fv-caspase fusions can then be dimerized by a synthetic divalent Fv ligand, AP20187, which binds strongly to Fv but weakly to the endogenous FKBPs. This FKBP-based system may be widely applicable to the study of the regulation and functions of caspases.