Lysosomes: fusion and function

Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2007 Aug;8(8):622-32. doi: 10.1038/nrm2217.


Lysosomes are dynamic organelles that receive and degrade macromolecules from the secretory, endocytic, autophagic and phagocytic membrane-trafficking pathways. Live-cell imaging has shown that fusion with lysosomes occurs by both transient and full fusion events, and yeast genetics and mammalian cell-free systems have identified much of the protein machinery that coordinates these fusion events. Many pathogens that hijack the endocytic pathways to enter cells have evolved mechanisms to avoid being degraded by the lysosome. However, the function of lysosomes is not restricted to protein degradation: they also fuse with the plasma membrane during cell injury, as well as having more specialized secretory functions in some cell types.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autophagy*
  • Biological Evolution
  • Cell-Free System / metabolism
  • Cell-Free System / microbiology
  • Cell-Free System / parasitology
  • Cell-Free System / ultrastructure
  • Cell-Free System / virology
  • Humans
  • Lysosomes / metabolism*
  • Lysosomes / microbiology
  • Lysosomes / parasitology
  • Lysosomes / ultrastructure
  • Lysosomes / virology
  • Membrane Fusion*
  • Phagocytosis*
  • Proteins / metabolism


  • Proteins