Lysosomes are organelles of eukaryotic cells that are critically involved in the degradation of macromolecules mainly delivered by endocytosis and autophagocytosis. Degradation is achieved by more than 60 hydrolases sequestered by a single phospholipid bilayer. The lysosomal membrane facilitates interaction and fusion with other compartments and harbours transport proteins catalysing the export of catabolites, thereby allowing their recycling. Lysosomal proteins have been addressed in various proteomic studies that are compared in this review regarding the source of material, the organelle/protein purification scheme, the proteomic methodology applied and the proteins identified. Distinguishing true constituents of an organelle from co-purifying contaminants is a central issue in subcellular proteomics, with additional implications for lysosomes as being the site of degradation of many cellular and extracellular proteins. Although many of the lysosomal hydrolases were identified by classical biochemical approaches, the knowledge about the protein composition of the lysosomal membrane has remained fragmentary for a long time. Using proteomics many novel lysosomal candidate proteins have been discovered and it can be expected that their functional characterisation will help to understand functions of lysosomes at a molecular level that have been characterised only phenomenologically so far and to generally deepen our understanding of this indispensable organelle.
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