Synapse formation is achieved by various synaptic organizers. Although this process is highly regulated by neuronal activity, the underlying molecular mechanisms remain largely unclear. Here we show that Cbln1, a synaptic organizer of the C1q family, is released from lysosomes in axons but not dendrites of cerebellar granule cells in an activity- and Ca2+-dependent manner. Exocytosed Cbln1 was retained on axonal surfaces by binding to its presynaptic receptor neurexin. Cbln1 further diffused laterally along the axonal surface and accumulated at boutons by binding postsynaptic δ2 glutamate receptors. Cbln1 exocytosis was insensitive to tetanus neurotoxin, accompanied by cathepsin B release, and decreased by disrupting lysosomes. Furthermore, overexpression of lysosomal sialidase Neu1 not only inhibited Cbln1 and cathepsin B exocytosis in vitro but also reduced axonal bouton formation in vivo. Our findings imply that co-release of Cbln1 and cathepsin B from lysosomes serves as a new mechanism of activity-dependent coordinated synapse modification. Ibata et al. find that Cbln1 is released from lysosomes by neuronal activity and accumulated at axonal boutons of cerebellar granule cells. Co-release of Cbln1 and lysosomal enzymes may serve as a new mechanism of activity-dependent coordinated synapse modification.
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