noun, plural: lysosomes
Their specific functions include digestion of macromolecules from phagocytosis, endocytosis, and autophagy, digestion of bacteria and other waste materials, repair of damage to the plasma membrane by acting as a membrane patch, and apoptosis (e.g. digesting web from the fingers of a 3- to 6-month-old fetus). Often, they are referred to as “suicide-bags” because of their role in autolysis.
Lysosomes were discovered by the Belgian cytologist Christian de Duve in 1949.
Word origin: from the Greek words lysis, which means dissolution or destruction, and soma, which means body.
Related forms: lysosomal (adjective).
Related terms: GERL.