Lysosomes are organelles that support diverse cellular functions such as terminal degradation of macromolecules and nutrient recycling. Additionally, lysosomes can fuse with the plasma membrane, a phenomenon referred to as lysosomal exocytosis, to release their contents, including hydrolytic enzymes and cargo proteins. Recently, neuronal activity has been shown to induce lysosomal exocytosis in dendrites and axons. Secreted lysosomal enzyme cathepsin B induces and stabilizes synaptic structural changes by degrading the local extracellular matrix. Extracellular matrix reorganization could also enhance the lateral diffusion of the co-released synaptic organizer Cbln1 along the surface of axons to facilitate new synapse formation. Similarly, lateral diffusion of dendritic AMPA-type glutamate receptors could be facilitated to enhance functional synaptic plasticity. Therefore, lysosomal exocytosis is a powerful way of building new cellular structures through the coordinated destruction of the old environment. Understanding the mechanisms by which lysosomal exocytosis is regulated in neurons is expected to lead to the development of new therapeutics for neuronal plasticity following spinal cord injury or neurodegenerative disease.
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