Q:

What is inside a lysosome?

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Quick Answer

Lysosomes are small vesicles that contain a variety of acidic hydrolase enzymes capable of disposing of biological material within a cell. They serve as a cell's waste management system and rid cells of unwanted and foreign objects.

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Full Answer

Lysosomes are located within a cell's cytoplasm, which is a liquid layer contained by the outer cell membrane. Many of a cell's essential components are located within the cytoplasm, protected internally by lysosomes and externally by the cell membrane. Lysosomes are responsible for trapping and breaking down foreign food particles, as well as disposing potentially harmful external particles such as viruses. When the organic components of a cell become obsolete, lysosomes carry out the task of removing them from the cytoplasm.

Lysosomes digest particles by fusing with them and dissolving them in a solution of enzymes. The enzymes contained within a lysosome are strong enough to kill the host cell if not contained within the lysosome's membrane. The enzymes found in lysosomes are produced by cellular components known as ribosomes, which are then safely packaged within their vesicular membrane in a region of a cell known as the Golgi apparatus. A cell may contain hundreds of lysosomes. Lysosomes are only found within certain complex cells known as eukaryotes, which contain nuclei and the other advanced organelles essential for cell function.

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