Difference Between Ribosomes and Lysosomes (With Table)

A cell primarily consists of cell organelles that serve various functions in a cell. Both the organelles possess distinct functions. Ribosomes are found within the cellular structure and are responsible for protein synthesis. Lysosomes are bounded by the membrane and they eliminate the pathogens entering the cell.

Ribosomes vs Lysosomes

The difference between ribosomes and lysosomes is that they vary with function specificity. Lysosomes are found only in animal cells whereas ribosomes can be found both in plant and animal cells. Ribosomes that are present in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells are responsible for translation in cells. Lysosomes are organelles performing autolysis and are responsible for breaking down several foreign factors.

Ribosomes can be found suspended in the cytoplasm of the cell and it is composed of two different sub-units i.e., a small and a larger sub-unit. These two subunits are found locking together. These ribosomes are also termed as ‘protein synthesizers’ in a cell. They help in synthesizing an amino acid chain for protein synthesis.

Lysosomes that are found in animal cells are evenly freely distributed in the cytoplasm of a cell. They resemble a bag-like structure carrying hydrolytic enzymes. Lysosomes are comparatively larger and possess about sixty enzymes responsible for digestion. These enzymes are produced by the rough endoplasmic reticulum and transferred to the Golgi complex present in the cell. These lysosomes are quite gigantic which possess a size up to 1.2 µm.

Comparison Table Between Ribosomes and Lysosomes

Parameters of ComparisonRibosomesLysosomes
Organelle locationRibosomes are found both in prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. It is not enclosed by a cell membrane.Lysosomes are found especially in eukaryotic animal cells and they are enclosed by a membrane.
Organelle compositionThey contain two sub-units namely the large and small sub-unit.  Where both consists of ribosomal RNA and proteins.They are composed of lipids and proteins with a single membrane coat.
FunctionProtein synthesis through a process called translation.They degrade by engulfing the foreign pathogens found in cytoplasm and they are useful in intracellular digestion.
Cellular sizeThey are comparatively smaller and the size differs from 20-30nm.They are larger and they vary from 0.1-1.2 µm in the cytoplasm of a cell.
Segmentation of the organelleExpansion segments are found as enigmatic insertions in ribosomes of eukaryotes.Lysosomes do not possess segmentation like ribosomes.

What are Ribosomes?

Ribosomes are present as the larger population in all cells and they are responsible for protein synthesis. It was first founded and explained by George E. Palade in the year 1955. He founded that ribosome were closely related to endoplasmic reticulum structures present in the cell. There are abundant ribosomes scattered in the cytoplasm. They almost take one-fourth of the total cell composition.

The E. coli ribosome measures about 20nm. They possess both ribosomal proteins and ribosomal RNA. The sub-units of ribosomes namely the smaller and larger sub-units are scaled by svedberg unit or S. . Ribosomes are the locality in a cell where genetic code is coded to protein molecules. Ribosomal molecules of mRNA code for the transfer of RNA.

They are typically made up of up to 80 different ribosomal proteins. The sub-units are named the 40S and 60S in eukaryotes. Whereas prokaryotes possess the 30S and 50S subunits. The ribosome reads the messenger RNA and translates it into a sequence of amino acids.

The sub-unit structure acts as a suitable position of docking for tRNA that will again be a part of a polypeptide chain which turns into a protein. The codon in the mRNA that possesses tRNA requires an anti-codon. The mitochondrial ribosomes of eukaryotes have functional likeliness with the features of bacteria.

What are Lysosomes?

Lysosomes contain digestive enzymes and are involved with different cellular mechanisms. Lysosomes facilitate self-destruction for damaged cells. Lysosomes is very acidic since it has to digest foreign particles and cells that are beyond the capacity of repair. They are also called suicidal bags. They are spherical and contain a pH of about approximately 4.5 to 5.

Besides degradation, the lysosomes play a vital role in secretion and energy metabolism. Lysosomes even recycle the intracellular components. The lysosome also carries out the endocytosis process, where finally hydrolytic enzymes digest the food particles. Lysosomes engulf several bio-molecules including carbs, nucleic acids, and fatty substances.

The enzymes that are responsible for hydrolysis require an acidic environment. The lysosomal membrane boundaries the cytosol in the cell. Lysosomes are involved in a clinical condition called lysosomal storage disease. It was later discovered that in 2009, lysosomal enzymes and membrane proteins are manipulated by TFEB. This TFEB refers to transcription factor EB.

In the hydrolytic enzymes present within the lysosomes, cathepsins are the major class enzyme. The enzymes are clumped together as a vesicle to establish a lysosome. Lysosomal activity triggers a significant elevation in viral pathogenicity. Lysosomes can also be fused with the plasma membrane.

Main Differences Between Ribosomes and Lysosomes

  1. Lysosomes are only present in the cytoplasm of eukaryotes whereas the ribosomes can be found in both eukaryotes and prokaryotes.
  2. Lysosomes are suicidal bags and engulf foreign substances whereas the ribosomes are a combination of two sub-units.
  3. Ribosomes do not contain enzymes whereas lysosomes contain hydrolase enzymes to degrade the cell debris.
  4. The lysosomes are usually up to 0.1µm whereas the ribosomes in the cytoplasm are 20-30nm. The ribosomes are smaller when compared to that the larger lysosomes.
  5. Ribosomes are the organelles that are responsible for protein synthesis whereas lysosomes are responsible for the hydrolysis of foreign bio-molecules in the cell.


Both Lysosomes and ribosomes are distinct and possess important cellular functions. They are different with various parameters including locality in the cell, functions, and structural differences. They serve an integral part in the routine functioning of the cell.

Lysosome breakdown and lyse the substances that are foreign to the cell. Ribosomes are protein synthesizers and encode the messenger RNA to synthesize the amino acid chain that is required for the synthesis of protein in a cell. Both the cell organelles are unique and serve important cellular functions in an organism.


  1. https://www.nature.com/articles/nrm2745
  2. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=bq4ACAAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA1&dq=lysosomes&ots=SAwHdzoxaD&sig=Lk4yTTYDU5pwc0UZ3jqLRAxz3bw
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