The lysosomes are organelles (specialized units within a cell) located inside animal cells. They are found in the cytoplasm (gel like substance found between the cell membrane and the nucleus) of most cells. Lysosomes are very tiny, but they have a very important function in the body. Let’s take a closer look at their important role.
What is the function of the lysosomes in the body?
The lysosomes have many important functions including breaking down waste materials and cellular debris. In effect, the lysosomes are the cell’s waste disposal unit. This means that they are responsible for breaking down; dying cells, old or unneeded organelles, excess food particles and invading microbes. To do this they contain many important enzymes to break down substances such as lipids, starch, protein and nucleic acids (DNA and RNA). Everything that is broken down by the lysosomes is transported back into the cell for use or for removal from the cell.
They also recycle receptor proteins from the surface of the cell and can act as a membrane patch to help repair a damaged plasma membrane.
Did you know?
There are about 50 rare and inherited diseases that affect the proper functioning of the lysosomes. These diseases are usually caused by a missing or defective digestive enzyme and cause a build up of substances within the cell. Most of these diseases are currently untreatable.