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Difference between Ribosome and Lysosome

Ribosome is a macromolecule and Lysosome is a cell organelle. Both are found in the cells. Lysosomes are found only in animal cells while ribosomes are found in both plant and animal cells. Both perform important cellular functions. Let us see how ribosomes differ from lysosomes!


Ribosomes, which are also known as protein synthesizers, found in the eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells which means they are found in both animal and plant cells. They make proteins from amino acids by a process called protein synthesis or translation. Ribosomes can be found freely suspended in the cytoplasm or attached to the endoplasmic reticulum to form the rough endoplasmic reticulum.

It is made of RNAs and proteins and is composed of two subunits locking together: a small and a large unit. Each unit has its own specific functions, e.g. the small unit reads or decodes the mRNA (messenger RNA) while the larger subunit facilitates the linkage of amino acid precursors to form a polypeptide chain as specified by the mRNA during a process called "translation". Both the subunits are made of proteins and RNA components and joined by interactions between the rRNAs of one subunit and proteins of another subunit.


Lysosome is a membrane-bound organelle which is found in almost all animal cells. These cell organelles are evenly distributed in the cytoplasm of the cell. They look like tiny sacs which contain hydrolytic enzymes which can break down various biomolecules or process nutrients. They also perform autolysis, a process to destroy the dead cells.

Lysosome functions as the digestive system of the cell as it degrades material which enters into the cell from outside as well as digests obsolete components of the cell. They contain an ionic pump that helps them maintaining highly acidic pH inside lysosomes. This organelle was discovered by a Belgian cytologist Christian de Duve.

Based on the above information, some of the key differences between ribosomes and lysosomes are as follows;

Ribosomes Lysosomes
They are found in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells (plant and animal cells). They are found only in eukaryotic cells or animal cells.
It is not enclosed by a membrane. It is enclosed by a membrane.
It is comparatively smaller in size than lysosomes, its size ranges from 20 to 30 nm. It is larger in size than ribosomes, It size ranges from 0.1 to 1.2 micrometer.
It is made of rRNA and ribosomal proteins. It is made of membrane proteins and digestive enzymes.
It can be found in the cytoplasm either bound to the endoplasmic reticulum or scattered in the cytoplasm. It is evenly distributed in the cytoplasm.
It can be found in the cytoplasm either bound to the endoplasmic reticulum or scattered in the cytoplasm. It is evenly distributed in the cytoplasm.
It has two subunits: small and large subunit. It lacks the segments.
It is actively involved in the translation of mRNAs. It is involved in intracellular digestion.
It is a macromolecule. It is a cell organelle.
It plays an important role in protein synthesis. It plays an important role in intracellular digestion and destroys the dead cells.
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