How Does the Nucleus Control What Happens in a Lysosome?

The nucleus indirectly controls what happens in a lysosome by producing DNA that is copied into a protein, which then binds to the DNA that builds lysosomes. Lysosomes, small enzyme-filled sacs, are responsible for the digestion of foreign particles or excess molecules in the cell. This first type of DNA has the power to activate certain genes in the lysosome-building DNA, thereby controlling characteristics and functions of the lysosomes.

The gene that controls lysosome production in the nucleus is called TFEB. One TFEB gene can make many duplicate proteins, each of which binds onto new worker genes and activates them. Inside the nucleus itself, proteins called transcription factors are responsible for activating TFEB. They transform it from DNA to RNA, which can be copied into a protein. The nucleus thus has control over how many lysosome-creating proteins are made and how quickly. According to Science Magazine, if there is an overproduction of the TFEB gene, there is also an overproduction of lysosomes.

The enzymes found in lysosomes are produced not by the nucleus but by an organelle called the Golgi apparatus. These enzymes are capable of digesting proteins, sugars, fats and other lipids, nucleic acids and harmful bacteria from outside the cell.