Difference between Lysosome and Ribosome

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Difference between Lysosome and Ribosome

Lysosome and ribosome are two components basically found in the cells with the one found primarily in eukaryotic organisms and the other in both eukaryotic and prokaryotic organisms. In this research we examine the key differences between these two components. Let’s first define them.

Definition of Ribosome

Ribosome, as aforementioned, is a component found in eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells. That is, ribosomes are found in both animals and plants. The structural component of ribosome is composed of a small and large unit, and each has a unique function. For instance, the small unit reads the messenger RNA, whereas the larger unit helps facilitates the linking of amino acid precursors into a polypeptide in a way specified by the mRNA in a process termed “translation”.

Ribosome is composed of ribosomal proteins and mRNA. By size, the ribosomes are generally smaller in diameter when compared to the lysosomes. The diameter of a prokaryotic ribosome is 20nm while that of the eukaryotic ribosome is typically ranging from 25 to 30nm.

In terms of functions, ribosomes are generally called the protein synthesizers because of their significant role in protein synthesis. The cells are in constant need of proteins for survival so the ribosomes play a pivotal role in synthesizing these proteins. The ribosomes can be found on the endoplasmic reticulum or in the cytoplasm. If the cell is in need of the protein, the mRNA is formed in the nucleus of the cell for the ribosome to kick-start protein synthesis. Ribosomes produce proteins from mRNA.

Definition of Lysosome

Lysosomes are generally found in eukaryotic cells – that is in animals. The main role of these components in a cell is the destruction of unwanted substances that could include foreign invaders or old organelles. Structurally, lysosome is a membrane-enclosed and spherical-shaped organelle characterized with the digestive enzymes for the lysis of unwanted substances.

By comparison, lysosomes are larger in size to the ribosomes. Their size varies from 0.1 to 1.2 micro meters. They are made of the lysosomal lumen enzymes and the membrane proteins, and this lysosomal lumen has approximately 60 rough ER-produced digestive enzymes.

Difference between Lysosome and Ribosome-1

Function-wise, the lysosomes are composed of the hydrolytic enzymes, which are responsible for the breakdown of unwanted substances in the cytoplasm. This is the main difference between these components because lysosomes breakdown unwanted materials, whereas the ribosomes build proteins. Typically, the lysosome can be regarded as the disposal system for the eukaryotic cells. For these hydrolytic enzymes to perform optimally, they need an acidic pH that ranges from 4.5 to 5.0[1]. Furthermore on the functions, lysosomes combine with other organelles to breakdown the cellular debris with phagosomes. Through a process termed phagocytosis, the phagosomes can clear the damaged structures that include viruses and bacteria.

What are the differences between Lysosome and Ribosome?

Their presence in cells

  • Ribosomes are found in prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells.
  • Lysosomes are found only in eukaryotic animals cells

Membrane type

  • Ribosome is not an organelle and it is not enclosed by any membrane
  • Lysosome is an organelle enclosed by a membrane


  • Ribosomes are typically smaller in size with a range of 20 to 30 nm
  • Lysosome are larger with a range of 0.1 to 1.2 micro meter


  • Ribosome is composed of ribosomal RNA and ribosomal proteins
  • Lysosome is composed of digestive enzymes and membrane proteins

Positioning in the cells

  • Ribosomes are found on the endoplasmic reticulum and in the cytoplasm
  • Lysosomes are found evenly distributed in the cytoplasm


  • Ribosomes are categorized into small and large units. Each unit has a unique function
  • Lysosome is not categorized.

Main function

  • Ribosome has a pivotal role in protein synthesis and translation of mRNA.
  • Lysosome has a significant role in digestion


  • Lysosome and ribosome are both important components of a cell with the ribosome found in both eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells, while the lysosome is found only in eukaryotic cells
  • Lysosome is enclosed with the membrane whereas the ribosome is not
  • Lysosome make use of the digestive enzymes to get rid of unwanted substances in the cell
  • Ribosome use translation to produce proteins from the mRNA
  • Lysosomes are generally larger than the ribosomes
  • Ribosomes are segmented into unequal units, whereas the lysosomes are not segmented[1]

Author: Lusi Madisha

Lusi is a professional writer and a researcher for more than seven years. She is a chemical engineering graduate from the University of South Africa.

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