Lysosomal membrane proteins and their central role in physiology

Traffic. 2013 Jul;14(7):739-48. doi: 10.1111/tra.12056. Epub 2013 Mar 6.


The lysosomal membrane was thought for a long time to primarily act as a physical barrier separating the luminal acidic milieu from the cytoplasmic environment. Meanwhile, it has been realized that unique lysosomal membranes play essential roles in a number of cellular events ranging from phagocytosis, autophagy, cell death, virus infection to membrane repair. This review provides an overview about the most interesting emerging functions of lysosomal membrane proteins and how they contribute to health and disease. Their importance is exemplified by their role in acidification, transport of metabolites and ions across the membrane, intracellular transport of hydrolases and the regulation of membrane fusion events. Studies in patient cells, non-mammalian model organisms and knockout mice contributed to our understanding of how the different lysosomal membrane proteins affect cellular homeostasis, developmental processes as well as tissue functions. Because these proteins are central for the biogenesis of this compartment they are also considered as attractive targets to modulate the lysosomal machinery in cases where impaired lysosomal degradation leads to cellular pathologies. We are only beginning to understand the complex composition and function of these proteins which are tightly linked to processes occurring throughout the endocytic and biosynthetic pathways.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptor Proteins, Vesicular Transport / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Intracellular Membranes / chemistry
  • Intracellular Membranes / metabolism*
  • Lysosome-Associated Membrane Glycoproteins / metabolism*
  • Lysosomes / metabolism*
  • Lysosomes / physiology
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / metabolism
  • Phagocytosis


  • Adaptor Proteins, Vesicular Transport
  • Lysosome-Associated Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Membrane Transport Proteins