Are Lysosomes Organelles Or Enzymes? 9 Facts You Should Know

In this article, we will look into: Are lysosomes organelles or enzymes and the facts around them.

Mainly membrane-bound organelles known as lysosomes are present in many animal cells. The collection of more than 60 different enzymes it possesses, however, can degrade every kind of biological polymer, including proteins, nucleic acids, lipids, carbohydrates, and others. Moreover, it has more than 50 solubilized and transmembrane proteins that are preferentially taken to lysosomes in response to signals.

The proteins that make up a lysosome’s membrane and lumen have a distinct composition. Along with polymer solubilization, the lysosome also plays a role in the secretion, apoptosis, energy metabolism, cell signalling, and plasma membrane regeneration processes within the cell. By breaking down old components found in the cytoplasm from within and without the cell, lysosomes serve as the cell’s method for getting rid of waste.

Why lysosomes are organelle?

Each eukaryotic cell has surface-bound organelles called lysosomes. A membrane surrounds each lysosome to retain an acidic environment inside the cell. Furthermore, these organelles are spherical shell sacs containing hydrolytic enzymes that can dissolve many biomolecules. 

Lysosomes often develop by branching off the trans-Golgi system membrane, which is a part of the Golgi complex in classifying newly synthesized proteins according to whether they are meant for usage in lysosomes, the plasma membrane, or endosomes.  

When one of three mechanisms, auto-phagocytosis, endocytosis, or phagocytosis—is used, the lysosomes merge with the resulting membrane vesicles. When a cell initiates endocytosis, extracellular macromolecules are processed by membrane-bound vesicles called endosomes, which subsequently interact with lysosomes.

Why lysosomes are not enzymes?

Since lysosomes are a form of cellular organelle that contains more than 60 specific enzymes and certain proteins and thus are surrounded by a membrane but are not considered enzymes, numerous hydrolytic enzymes, also referred to as acid hydrolases, are found in lysosomes. These enzymes break down biomolecules such as nucleic acids, polysaccharides, and proteins. 

A lysosome’s membrane proteins and lumenal proteins each have an unusual component. Due to the neutrality to the mildly alkaline pH of the cell, these enzymes are only functional in the acidic living space of the lysosome. As a result, when the lysosome leaks or disintegrates, the cell is protected from self-degeneration by its acid-dependent activity.

Lysosome showing proteins and enzymes inside it- as are lysosomes organelles
Lysosome showing proteins and enzymes inside it- Wikimedia

What makes enzymes in lysosomes?

Lysozyme or Muramidase are the terms of the enzymes present in the lysosome. The rough endoplasmic reticulum (RER) produces lysosomal enzymes, which are then activated by a combination of CLN6 and CLN8 proteins and transmitted to the Golgi apparatus. The lysosomal enzyme-filled vesicle teamed up with a mature endosome, an organelle with a pH of around 5.5 that is rather acidic after reaching the Golgi apparatus.

The glycoside hydrolase lysozyme breaks down the 1,4-beta-linkages connecting N-acetylmuramic acid and N-acetyl-D-glucosamine residues in peptidoglycan, which is the main building block of gram-positive bacteria usually. Vesicles containing the enzymes are then used to transmit them to already-existing lysosomes. The movement of endosomal membrane components from the lysosomes straight to the endosomes shows that the delayed endosome alone can later evolve into a mature lysosome.

Where are lysosomal enzymes found?

The endoplasmic reticulum or ER, where the lysosomal enzymes are observed and managed to produce, carries them through the Golgi apparatus, where they undergo post-translational transformations such as glycosylation and the incorporation of mannose-6-phosphate labels. Lysosomal enzymes can also be found in saliva, sweating, milk, mucus, and tears, breaking down some microbe’s cell walls.

The body produces enzymes, which serve as biological catalysts in chemical changes. The potent enzyme lysozyme dissolves the peptidoglycan membrane of the exterior cell wall of bacteria inside the human body. A structurally sound glycan chain made of overlapping N-acetylmuramic acid and N-acetylglucosamine molecules makes up the peptidoglycan layer. 

A series of these compounds support the microbial cell wall. When Lysozyme is incorporated, it dissociates the bonds holding these molecules together, causing the cell wall to disintegrate and cell death which is apoptosis. 

Lysosomal enzymes as are lysosomes organelles
Lysosomal enzymes – Wikimedia

Structure of lysosomal enzymes

Since lysosomes are membrane-bound organelles, hydrolytic enzymes and certain other cellular waste are found in the lumen, a portion inside the membrane. The longest lysosomes exceed almost 1.2 m in length. Lysosome results range in size depending on the living organism. But often, they vary between 0.1 and 0.6 mm. 125+ amino acids make up the little protein known as Lysozyme. 

Proteins are made up of amino acids that catalyze chemical processes. Compressed proteins are those that, as a result of protein interactions, have a lower surface area. A gap is made when the amino acids fold into a small and spherical shape. The protein’s pronounced cleft forms an ergonomic structure it adopts to adhere to or grab its source. 

Functions of lysosomal enzymes

The lysosomal enzyme hydrolyzes, targets, and disrupts the peptidoglycans’ glycosidic linkages. Since lysosomes carry a range of enzymes, especially lysosomal lipase, the cell can degrade the numerous biomolecules it consumes, including peptides, nucleic acids, carbohydrates, and lipids. For better functioning, the hydrolysis-causing enzymes need an acidic environment.

Moreover, although less effective than actual chitinases, this specific lysosomal enzyme can break down glycosidic linkages in chitin. The Lysozyme’s active site attaches the peptidoglycan molecule in the apparent gap that separates its two properties. It affects the peptidoglycans in the cell walls of microorganisms, particularly Gram-positive bacteria. It happens between the NAM (N-acetylmuramic acid) and the NAG (N-acetylglucosamine), the 4th carbon atom.

Tetrasaccharides and other lesser saccharides have also been considered feasible substrates, but only when used in conjunction with an interconversion with such a long sequence. In addition, it obtains its generous capacity for degeneration from the transfer of enzymes that are selective for various substrates. Cathepsins are the primary group of hydrolytic enzymes, whereas lysosomal alpha-glucosidase carries carbohydrates.


Difference between lysosomes and lysozymes

The following table lists the differences between lysosomes and lysozymes.

LysosomesLysozymesAn organelle found in cells called lysosomes carries membranous digestive enzymes.An enzyme called Lysozyme hydrolyzes microbial cell walls.
It can be present in the eukaryotic species’ cells.It is present in lysosomes.
It is an organelle found in the cytoplasm of all eukaryotic cells but is particularly prevalent in leukocytes, kidneys, and liver cells.The enzyme that disintegrates the cell walls of some microorganisms is present in saliva, sweat, tears, and human milk.
All animal cells have the lysosome, which contains 129 enzymes and proteins.In particular, many lysozymes are seen in human milk and hen’s eggs.
Difference between lysosomes and lysozymes

How are lysosomal enzymes involved in digestion?

To digest macromolecules inside cells, lysosomal enzymes are specifically formed to perform this digestion process. The lysosome’s acidic pH enables lysosomal enzymes to become functional, and the cytosol’s higher pH causes them to become dormant or inactive. In the situation that lysosomal enzymes are discharged into the cytoplasm, this safeguards the cell from the outside world. 

A lysosomal membrane or the membrane H+ pump propelled by ATP controls the pH there. The lysosome membrane retains the cell’s interior acidic and keeps the digestive enzymes apart from other body parts. Proteins from the endoplasmic reticulum or ER are used to form lysosome enzymes packaged within vesicles by the Golgi apparatus.

Lysosome role in the vesicle formation as are lysosomes organelles
Lysosome role in the vesicle formation – Wikipedia

Are lysosomal enzymes proteins?

No, the lysosomal proteins are not the lysosomal enzymes. They are present in the membrane-bound organelle known as lysosomes, but they are distinct from one another. The rough endoplasmic reticulum (RER) produces lysosomal enzymes, which are then activated by a complex of CLN6 and CLN8 proteins and transferred to the Golgi apparatus. The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) produces lysosomal proteins, which are then transferred to the trans-Golgi network via the Golgi complex.

How many enzymes are present in lysosomes?

Lysosomes contain approximately more than 50 different kinds of enzymes. These various lysosomal enzymes can hydrolyze proteins, DNA, RNA, lipids, and polysaccharides. These lysosomal enzymes are also known as degradative enzymes or hydrolytic enzymes. Proteases, lipases, nucleases, glycosidases, phosphatases, phospholipases, and sulfatases are the most common enzymes in this group.

List of lysosomal enzymes

A cell of an animal or a microbial organism cannot survive without the hydrolytic enzymes found in lysosomes, which are involved in a wide range of biological functions.

The list of lysosomal enzymes is provided in the list below.

1.     Glycosidases

  • alpha-Galactosidase A (GLA)
  • beta-Galactosidase-1 (GLB1)
  • Chitobiase (CTBS)
  • Endo-beta-Galactosidase
  • Heparanase (HPSE)

2.     Sulfatases

  • Arylsulfatase B (ARSB)
  • Glucosamine (N-acetyl)-6-Sulfatase (GNS)
  • Iduronate 2-Sulfatase (IDS)
  • Sulfamidase (SGSH)
  • Sulfatase-2 (SULF2)

3.     Lysosomal Proteases

  • Lysosomal Carboxypeptidase A
  • Cathepsin B
  • DPPI or Cathepsin C
  • Asparaginyl Endopeptidase
  • Napsin A

4.     Lipid degrading enzymes

  • Phospholipase
  •  Esterase

5.     Polysaccharides

  • Hyaluronidase
  • Beta-Glucuronidase
  • Arylsulphatase


All animal cells contain lysosomes that are typically membrane-bound organelles, typically spherical-shaped vesicles with multiple lysosomal enzymes inside of them. However, the polysaccharides in microbial cell membranes are hydrolyzed by an enzyme called lysozymes. Due to its role as an antibacterial enzyme, Lysozyme is a vital component of the innate immune system. Both have unique roles within the cell that support the upkeep of the cell’s basic functions.

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