If a cell's digestive enzymes are enclosed in a membrane-bound organelle, how can these molecules function in the cell?


Digestive enzymes break down worn-out organelles and ship them to the cytoplasm where they are used to construct new organelles.

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Digestive enzymes are enzymes that break down polymeric macromolecules into their smaller building blocks, in order to facilitate their absorption by the body. Digestive enzymes are found in the digestive tracts of animals (including humans) and in the traps of carnivorous plants, where they aid in the digestion of food, as well as inside cells, especially in their lysosomes, where they function to maintain cellular survival. Digestive enzymes are diverse and are found in the saliva secreted by the salivary glands, in the stomach secreted by cells lining the stomach, in the pancreatic juice secreted by pancreatic exocrine cells, and in the intestinal (small and large) secretions, or as part of the lining of the gastrointestinal tract.

Digestive enzymes are classified based on their target substrates:

Cell biology

Cell biology (formerly cytology, from the Greek kytos, "contain") is a scientific discipline that studies cells – their physiological properties, their structure, the organelles they contain, interactions with their environment, their life cycle, division and death. This is done both on a microscopic and molecular level. Cell biology research encompasses both the great diversity of single-celled organisms like bacteria and protozoa, as well as the many specialized cells in multicellular organisms such as humans, plants, and sponges.

Knowing the components of cells and how cells work is fundamental to all biological sciences. Appreciating the similarities and differences between cell types is particularly important to the fields of cell and molecular biology as well as to biomedical fields such as cancer research and developmental biology. These fundamental similarities and differences provide a unifying theme, sometimes allowing the principles learned from studying one cell type to be extrapolated and generalized to other cell types. Therefore, research in cell biology is closely related to genetics, biochemistry, molecular biology, immunology, and developmental biology.

Organelles Cell Cytoplasm
Membrane biology

Membrane biology is the study of the biological and physiochemical characteristics of membranes.

Biological membrane

A biological membrane or biomembrane is an enclosing or separating membrane that acts as a selectively permeable barrier, within or around a cell. It consists of a phospholipid bilayer with embedded , integral and peripheral proteins used in communication and transportation of chemicals and ions. The cellular membranes should not be confused with isolating tissues formed by layers of cells, such as mucous and basement membranes.

Endomembrane system

The endomembrane system is composed of the different membranes that are suspended in the cytoplasm within a eukaryotic cell. These membranes divide the cell into functional and structural compartments, or organelles. In eukaryotes the organelles of the endomembrane system include: the nuclear envelope, the endoplasmic reticulum, the Golgi apparatus, lysosomes, vacuoles, vesicles, endosomes and the cell membrane. The system is defined more accurately as the set of membranes that form a single functional and developmental unit, either being connected directly, or exchanging material through vesicle transport. Importantly, the endomembrane system does not include the membranes of mitochondria and chloroplasts.

The nuclear envelope is a membrane containing two layers, that encompasses the contents of the nucleus. The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is a synthesis and transport organelle that branches into the cytoplasm in plant and animal cells. The Golgi apparatus is a series of multiple compartments where molecules are packaged for delivery to other cell components or for secretion from the cell. Vacuoles, which are found in both plant and animal cells (though much bigger in plant cells), are responsible for maintaining the shape and structure of the cell as well as storing waste products. A vesicle is a relatively small, membrane-enclosed sac that stores or transports substances. The plasma membrane, also referred to as the cell membrane, is a protective barrier that regulates what enters and leaves the cell. There is also an organelle known as the spitzenkörper that is only found in fungi, and is connected with hyphal tip growth.

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