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Lysosome: Definition & Function

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  • 0:01 Definition
  • 0:35 Structure
  • 1:15 Function
  • 2:50 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Derrick Arrington

Derrick has taught biology and chemistry at both the high school and college level. He has a master's degree in science education.

Lysosomes are organelles found inside all cells. In this lesson, you will learn about the structure and function of lysosomes to gain a better understanding of them.

Definition of Lysosome

Has anyone ever asked you to take out the trash? You probably did not consider that action as part of a team effort, but in a cell, it is. Inside a cell, numerous organelles function to remove wastes. One of the key organelles involved in digestion and waste removal is the lysosome. Lysosomes are organelles that contain digestive enzymes. They digest excess or worn out organelles, food particles, and engulfed viruses or bacteria. Lysosomes are like the stomach of the cell.

Structure of Lysosomes

Lysosomes are surrounded by a membrane composed of phospholipids that separate the inside of the lysosomes from the membrane's external environment. Phospholipids are the same cellular molecules that make up the cell membrane surrounding the entire cell. Lysosomes range in size from 0.1 to 1.2 micrometers. Structurally, lysosomes are like a floating garbage bag that contains enzymes capable of digesting molecules. Their external membrane is like a gateway that allows molecules inside of the lysosome without allowing the digestive enzymes to escape into the cell.

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