Lysosome

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Definition

noun, plural: lysosomes

(cell biology) Organelle containing a large range of digestive enzymes used primarily for digestion and removal of excess or worn-out organelles, food particles, and engulfed viruses or bacteria


Supplement

Lysosomes are organelles with various digestive enzymes. These are lysosomal enzymes that are synthesized in the rough endoplasmic reticulum and imported from the Golgi apparatus as vesicles. These enzymes are used primarily for digestion and removal of excess or worn-out organelles, food particles, and engulfed viruses or bacteria. Thus, one of the main functions of lysosomes is associated with the digestion of macromolecules from phagocytosis, endocytosis, and autophagy, and digestion of bacteria and other waste materials. The lysosomes, therefore, act as the waste disposal system o the cell. Apart from this though they are also involved in the 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: Greek words lysis, which means dissolution or destruction, and soma, which means body

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