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Curr Protoc Cell Biol. 2001 May;Chapter 3:Unit 3.6. doi: 10.1002/0471143030.cb0306s07.

Isolation of lysosomes from tissues and cells by differential and density gradient centrifugation.

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Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, United Kingdom.


This unit covers the use of Percoll, Nycodenz, and iodixanol for purification of lysosomes from a light mitochondrial pellet or postnuclear supernatant. The first protocol describes isolation of lysosomes from rat liver using a Percoll gradient; it includes some comments on using brain and kidney tissue as source material. Alternatively, this protocol can be modified to enhance the separation of lysosomes by organelle density perturbation. Another alternative uses a discontinuous gradient of Nycodenz to purify lysosomes from a rat liver light mitochondrial pellet. A continuous iodixanol gradient, which can be used to purify other organelles in the light mitochondrial fraction, is yet another alternative for purifying lysosomes. Lysosomes can also be isolated from some of the more commonly used cultured cells. The unit also includes assays for common lysosome marker enzymes.

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