Peroxisomes or microbodies are multifunctional cellular organelles that may containing more than 50 enzymes involved in diverse activities. Peroxisomes and lysosomes are often referred to as the garbage disposal system. Both organelles are somewhat spherical, bound by a single membrane, and rich in digestive enzymes, naturally occurring proteins that speed up biochemical processes. For example, lysosomes can contain more than three dozen enzymes for degrading proteins, nucleic acids, and certain sugars called polysaccharides. All of these enzymes work best at a low pH, reducing the risk that these enzymes will digest their own cell should they somehow escape from the lysosome. Here we can see the importance behind compartmentalization of the eukaryotic cell. The cell could not house such destructive enzymes if they were not contained in a membrane-bound system.
One function of a lysosome is to digest foreign bacteria that invade a cell. Other functions include helping to recycle receptor proteins and other membrane components and degrading worn out organelles such as mitochondria. Lysosomes can even help repair damage to the plasma membrane by serving as a membrane patch, sealing the wound.
Peroxisomes function to rid the body of toxic substances, such as hydrogen peroxide, or other metabolites and contain enzymes concerned with oxygen utilization. High numbers of peroxisomes can be found in the liver, where toxic byproducts are known to accumulate. All of the enzymes found in a peroxisome are imported from the cytosol. Each enzyme transferred to a peroxisime has a special sequence at one end of the protein, called a PTS or peroxisomal targeting signal, that allows the protein to be taken into that organelle, where they then function to rid the cell of toxic substances.
Peroxisomes often resemble a lysosome. However, peroxisomes are self replicating, whereas lysosomes are formed in the Golgi complex. Peroxisomes also have membrane proteins that are critical for various functions, such as for importing proteins into their interiors and to proliferate and segregate into daughter cells.
- Karp, Gerald (2008). Cell and Molecular Biology:Concepts and Experiments (5th ed.). New Jersey: John Wiley. p. 207. ISBN 978-0-470-04217-5.
- What is a Cell? by the National Center for Biotechnology Information