Function of lysosome in a cell

Lysosomes are membrane-enclosed organelles found in the cytoplasm of the eukaryotic cells (mainly animal cells) and contain some enzymes, which are capable to break down all types of biological polymers (proteins, nucleic acids carbohydrates and lipids).The main function of lysosome is to secrete digestive enzymes.

Lysosome in a cell
Illustration of lysosome.

It is spherical in shape. It contains about 50 different degradative enzymes. Lysosomes arise from the Endoplasmic reticulum and Golgi-apparatus. Most lysosomal enzymes are acid hydrolases.


  1. The main function of lysosome is to break down the unwanted macromolecule of the cell. The enzymes present in lysosome, mainly acid hydrolase can degrade all types of biomolecules such as- protein, nucleic acids, lipids, carbohydrates etc.
  2. Lysosomes degenerate dead cells and damaged cell organelles to maintain the cell`s hygiene which is necessary to generate new cells.   For this reason, lysosome is known as- Recycling center.
  3. Lysosome also takes a vital part in our body`s defense mechanism. It degenerates the bacteria and microbes which enters the cell and protect the cell from death and protect us from getting ill.
  4. It is a co-operator of phagocytosis (the process to degenerate or break down of the undesirable particles and organism such as bacteria, which can cause harm to the cell). Lysosomes diffuse with phagosomes to form phagolysosomes. It causes death to the harmful organism.
function of lysosome in phagocytosis
Function of lysosome in phagocytosis
  • 5. It also helps in fertilization. The lysosomal enzymes present in the acrosome of a sperm, help in the break down the egg membrane and make an entry point for the sperm into the egg and facilitate the fertilization process.
  • 6. Lysosomes also play an important role in the initial state of mitosis cell division.

In necessary condition it helps to replace the old cells. When a cell becomes damaged, the lysosomes burst, and the digestive enzymes come out from it and digest their own cell. For this reason, lysosomes are also known as Suicidal bag.

Do You Know?

*Most of the lysosomal enzymes (mainly acid hydrolase) are activated at the acidic pH (about 5), that is maintained in the lysosomes but not at the cytoplasm as the pH of cytoplasm is neutral (about 7.2). These requirement of acidic pH for activation of the enzyme hydrolase provides double protection to the other content of the cytoplasm from lysosomal digestion.

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