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Structure of Lysosomes

Lysosomes are simple one membrane bound sacs filled with digestive enzymes. They are bounded by a single lipoprotein membrane.  They are globular having a diameter of 0.2 to 0.8 microns. The lipoprotein membrane insulates the enzymes form the rest of the cell. If the enzymes are released they digest the cell and hence lysosomes are also referred to as “suicide bags”.

Some of the enzymes present in the Lysosomes are: Nucleases, Phosphateses, Proteases, Lipases and Sulphatases. A single lysosome may contain one or more enzymes. These enzymes are synthesized by the Rough Endoplasmic Reticulum (RER).  Lysosomes are absent in plant cells.

Functions of Lysosomes:

  1. Lysosomes digest the organic waste that is produced due to the various metabolic activities of the cell.
  2. They play an important function is removing the worn out cell organelles and organic debris by a process called Autolysis. They are also called as ‘Demolition Squads’.
  3. It protects the cell by destroying any foreign bacteria or virus that invades the cell
  4. When a cell gets old or damaged, lysosomes burst and the enzymes digest their own cells. This is called as Autolysis. Therefore, lysosomes are also referred to as ‘Suicide Bags’. 
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