A lysosome is an important cell organelle found within eukaryotic animal cells. Due to their peculiar function, they’re also referred to as the Suicide bags of the cell. The term was coined by Christian de Duve, a Belgian biologist.
They can be defined as sphere-shaped sacs which when combined with hydrolytic enzymes have the potential to churn down many kinds of biomolecules. They function to break down cellular wastes and debris by immersing them with hydrolytic enzymes.
- They are membrane-bound organelles and the area within the membrane is called the lumen, which contains the hydrolytic enzymes and other cellular debris.
- The pH level of the lumen lies between 4.5 – 5.0, which makes it quite acidic. It is almost comparable to the function of acids found in the stomach.
- They are also involved in various other cell processes such as counting discharged materials, energy metabolism, cell signaling, and restoration of the plasma membrane.
- The sizes of lysosomes vary, with the largest ones measuring more than 1.2 μm. But they typically range from 0.1 μm to 0.6 μm.
How Does the Lysosome Function?
The main function of lysosomes is digestion and removal of waste. Cellular debris or foreign particles are pulled into the cell through the process of endocytosis. The process of endocytosis happens when the cell membrane falls in on itself, Creating a vacuole or a pouch around the external contents and then bringing those contents into the cell.
On the other hand, discarded wastes and other substances originating from within the cell are digested by the process of autophagocytosis or autophagy. The process of autophagy involves the disassembly or degradation of the cellular components through a natural, regulated mechanism.
Nuclear genes are genes that are located within the nucleus of a cell, specifically in eukaryotes.
Any mutations in these genes may result in the emergence of over 30 diverse human genetic ailments, which are collectively called lysosomal storage diseases.
When such a mutation occurs, the molecules accumulate within the cell and eventually kill it. This can lead to cancer and a host of other diseases ranging from cardiovascular diseases, neurodegenerative disorders, and aging-associated ailments.