Functions of Lysosome | Lysosomal Enzymes and Their Functions

What are Lysosomes?

Lysosomes are small sac-like structures surrounded by a single membrane and containing strong digestive enzymes that can break down food and engulfed viruses or bacteria. Lysosomes are membrane-bound organelles found within cells. Lysosomes are also known as suicide sac in the cell.
Fig: Lysosomes
Shape and Size of Lysosomes:
Lysosomes are like the stomach of the cell and they digest waste and superfluous cell fragments. Lysosome is usually a small sac-like spherical structure. It measures about 0.5-1.0 µm in diameter.

Number of Lysosomes:

Number of lysosome presents in a cell- 

Range → 50 to 1,000 Lysosome/cell
There are 50 to 1,000 lysosomes per mammalian cell, but a single large lysosome is called the vacuole in fungi and plants.

Different Lysosomal Enzymes and Their Functions:

Lysosome contains so many digestive enzymes and they digest nutrient molecules. They contain about 45 enzymes that are grouped into six main categories:

1. Nucleases:
Nucleases are important enzymes that hydrolyze nucleic acids.

2. Proteases:
Proteases include enzymes like collagenase and peptidases that convert protein into amino acids.

3. Glycosidases:
Glycosidases convert polysaccharides into monosaccharides. For instance, they convert lactose into glucose and galactose.

4. Phosphatases:
Phosphatases are enzymes that act on organic phosphate compounds to release phosphate.

5. Lipase:
Lipases that act on lipids to produce acids and alcohol.

6. Sulphatases:
Sulphatases are enzymes that act on organic compounds to release sulfates.

Main Functions of Lysosomes:

All the functions of the lysosome have pointed out in the following:

  • The main function of lysosome is to help with cell metabolism by ingesting and dissolving unwanted parts of the cell, cell debris, or foreign substances that have entered the cell.
  • Acts as autophagic vesicles of the cell.
  • Acts as scavengers of the cell.
  • The digestive enzymes of their acidic interior break down large structures and molecules into simple components, and they then return the products to the cell for further use or disposal.
  • Lysosomal enzymes are synthesized by Endoplasmic Reticulum (ER).
  • The enzymes are passed on to the Golgi apparatus where the lysosome Is produced.
  • Lysosome use the acid hydrolases from the endoplasmic reticulum to digest complex proteins and organelles that are no longer needed.
  • The lysosome essentially acts as the cell’s digestive system.

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