The Function Of Lysosomes

Lysosomes are organelles inside animal cells that are fully membrane-bound; they're not present in red blood cells, though, and fungi have a similar structure called vacuoles that serves the same purpose but actually is not considered a lysosome. Asfar as cellular components go, lysosomes are a relatively new discovery.

First found by Belgian biologist Christian de Duve, winner of the 1974 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, lysosomes are both structurally and chemically sphere-shapedstructures that contain acid hydrolases. These use enzymes to break down biomolecules like proteins, nucleic acids, carbohydrates, and lipids, almost like a stomach digests food.

As the garbage disposal of the cell, lysosomes also break down left over cellular wastes,actually digesting theunwanted materials from throughout the cytoplasm and from outside of the cell, and destroying obsolete components inside the cell. They are humorously called the "suicide bags" or "suicide sacs" of the cell because they destroy leftover content.

Lysosomes are also in charge of cellular homeostasis, plasma membrane repair, cell signaling, and energy metabolism. These are actively related to maintaining health and fighting diseases in their host organisms. Depending on the job they'll do in the cell, lysosomes can vary greatly in size. The largest lysosomes can be as much as ten time larger than the smallest ones.

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