A class of morphologically heterogeneous cytoplasmic particles in animal and plant tissues characterised by their content of hydrolytic enzymes and the structure-linked latency of these enzymes. The intracellular functions of lysosomes depend on their lytic potential. The single unit membrane of the lysosome acts as a barrier between the enzymes enclosed in the lysosome and the external substrate. The activity of the enzymes contained in lysosomes is limited or nil unless the vesicle in which they are enclosed is ruptured. Such rupture is supposed to be under metabolic (hormonal) control.

(12 Dec 1998)