Functions of Vesicles

Functions of vesicles include transporting substances within the cell and phagocytizing harmful materials in the cell. This Buzzle article further elaborates on the vital functions that different vesicles perform.
Vesicles are small cell organelles that are present in cells. These organelles are small, membrane-enclosed sacs that store and transport substances to and from one cell to another and from one part of a cell to another. They are one of the most important parts of a cell.

The vesicle is separated from the rest of the cytoplasm by at least one phospholipid bilayer. The membrane that encloses the vesicle is similar to the plasma membrane. Thus, vesicles can fuse with the plasma membrane when they want to release their contents outside the boundaries of the cell. However, vesicles can also fuse with other organelles that are present inside the cell to release or engulf substances. The function of vesicles in a cell, thus, varies depending on the type of vesicle that is present. Given below are details regarding different types of vesicles present in cells and their corresponding functions.

Functions of Vesicles According to Their Type

Lysosomes are specialized organelles that contain digestive enzymes that are used to break down substances in the cell into smaller molecules. As these organelles are present only in animal cells, the function of vesicles in this case will be different compared to that of the plant cell. The lysosome structure consists of small sacs that are bound by a single layered membrane. These are the organelles that are involved with cellular digestion. Hence, lysosome function consists of eliminating harmful substances from the cell with the help of endocytosis. This is achieved by the phagocytosis process.

The vacuole is an organelle that is predominantly present in plant and fungal cells. It is also seen in certain animal and bacterial cells, though it is one of the prominent parts of the plant cells. These organelles are filled with fluid and basically contain enzymes in a solution. The vacuoles are responsible for isolating materials from the cell, which may be harmful to it and also, contain waste products within themselves. As an autophagic vesicle, the function of this cell organelle is to ingest and destruct any invading bacteria. It is also responsible for maintaining the turgor pressure and the pH value of the cell.

Transport Vesicles
These are membrane-bound vesicles that are nothing but secreted proteins and are made on ribosomes which are found in the rough endoplasmic reticulum. Most of these proteins mature in the Golgi apparatus before going to their final location, which may be lysosomes, peroxisomes, or some place outside the cell. These proteins are carried from one location to another inside the transport vesicles. Hence, as the name suggests, the function of the transport vesicle is to move molecules between different locations inside the cell.

Secretory Vesicles
Secretory vesicles are those that contain material that is to be excreted from the cell. Thus, these vesicles may contain material that is harmful for the cell, and hence, there is need to get rid of it. So, it may contain waste products or end products of reactions in the cell. These in fact, may even contain many useful secretions that are needed in different parts of the body. There are different types of secretory vesicles, like synaptic vesicles, which are located at pre-synaptic terminals in the neurons. In this type of secretory vesicle, function of the organelle consists of storing neurotransmitters. The hormones that are secreted from the endocrine glands are also stored in secretory vesicles, from where they are released into the bloodstream.

There are certain specialized vesicles that are found only in certain cells, like seminal vesicles which are present postero-inferior to the urinary bladder in males. Seminal vesicle function consists of secreting a large proportion of the fluid that eventually becomes a part of semen. In the end, the function of vesicle present in the cell will depend on its type.