Whereas we have a profound understanding about the function and biogenesis of the protein constituents in the lumen of the lysosomal compartment, much less is known about the functions of proteins of the lysosomal membrane. Proteomic analyses of the lysosomal membrane suggest that, apart from the well-known lysosomal membrane proteins, additional and less abundant membrane proteins are present. The identification of disease-causing genes and the in-depth analysis of knockout mice leading to mutated or absent membrane proteins of the lysosomal membrane have demonstrated the essential role of these proteins in lysosomal acidification, transport of metabolites resulting from hydrolytic degradation and interaction and fusion with other cellular membrane systems. In addition, trafficking pathways of lysosomal membrane proteins are closely linked to the biogenesis of this compartment. This is exemplified by the recent finding that LIMP-2 (lysosomal integral membrane protein type-2) is responsible for the mannose 6-phosphate receptor-independent delivery of newly synthesized β-glucocerebrosidase to the lysosome. Similar to LIMP-2, which could also be linked to vesicular transport processes in certain polarized cell types, the major constituents of the lysosomal membrane, the glycoproteins LAMP (lysosome-associated membrane protein)-1 and LAMP-2 are essential for regulation of lysosomal motility and participating in control of membrane fusion events between autophagosomes or phagosomes with late endosomes/lysosomes. Our recent investigations into the role of these proteins have not only increased our understanding of the endolysosomal system, but also supported their major role in cell physiology and the development of different diseases.
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