Lysosomes in programmed cell death pathways: from initiators to amplifiers

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Lysosome is the central organelle for intracellular degradation of biological macromolecules and organelles. The material destined for degradation enters the lysosomes primarily via endocytosis, autophagy and phagocytosis, and is degraded through the concerted action of more than 50 lysosomal hydrolases. However, lysosomes are also linked with numerous other processes, including cell death, inflammasome activation and immune response, as well as with lysosomal secretion and cholesterol recycling. Among them programmed cell death pathways including apoptosis have received major attention. In most of these pathways, cell death was accompanied by lysosomal membrane permeabilization and release of lysosomal constituents with an involvement of lysosomal hydrolases, including the cathepsins. However, it is less clear, whether lysosomal membrane permeabilization is really critical for the initiation of cell death programme(s). Therefore, the role of lysosomal membrane permeabilization in various programmed cell death pathways is reviewed, as well as the mechanisms leading to it.

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