The release of signaling molecules from neurons must be regulated, to accommodate their highly polarized structure. In the developing Drosophila visual system, photoreceptor neurons secrete the epidermal growth factor receptor ligand Spitz (Spi) from their cell bodies, as well as from their axonal termini. Here we show that subcellular localization of Rhomboid proteases, which process Spi, determines the site of Spi release from neurons. Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) localization of Rhomboid 3 is essential for its ability to promote Spi secretion from axons, but not from cell bodies. We demonstrate that the ER extends throughout photoreceptor axons, and show that this feature facilitates the trafficking of the Spi precursor, the ligand chaperone Star, and Rhomboid 3 to axonal termini. Following this trafficking step, secretion from the axons is regulated in a manner similar to secretion from cell bodies. These findings uncover a role for the ER in trafficking proteins from the neuronal cell body to axon terminus
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