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How does a lysosome recycle materials in a cell?

Question:

How does a lysosome recycle materials in a cell?

Lysosomal Function:

Lysosomes are membrane-bound organelles found in many eukaryotic cells. These organelles contain enzymes that break down materials in the cell; these materials are often recycled by the cell or eliminated as cellular waste.

Answer and Explanation: 1

Lysosomes are membrane-bound structures that generally contain hydrolytic enzymes. Their function is to break down material into potential reusable components for the cell. Lysosomes carry out this function in two ways.

First, lysosomes assist in phagocytosis. When a cell comes in contact with something it wants to take in, for example food nutrients, the cell performs phagocytosis. The cell encompasses the nutrients and brings them into the cell, forming a food vacuole. The lysosome then fuses with the food vacuole, forming a phagolysosome, and the hydrolytic enzymes from the lysosome begin to break down the food material. The usable nutrients are utilized by the cell, while unusable materials are released from the cell.

Second, lysosomes assist in autophagy. Autophagy is when a lysosome digests another organelle within the cell that is damaged, such as a mitochondrion. The organelle is usually enveloped by membrane; the lysosome fuses with the membrane, and hydrolytic enzymes digest the organelle. Again, the usable materials are recycled and the unusable materials are eliminated from the cell.


Learn more about this topic:

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Lysosome: Definition & Function

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Chapter 8 / Lesson 10

What are lysosomes? Read a lysosome definition, and learn about lysosome functions, structure, and roles in the cell. See info on lysosomal storage diseases.


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