Here we introduce zapalog-mediated endoplasmic reticulum trap (zapERtrap), which allows one to use light to precisely trigger forward trafficking of diverse integral membrane proteins from internal secretory organelles to the cell surface with single cell and subcellular spatial resolution. To demonstrate its utility, we use zapERtrap in neurons to dissect where synaptic proteins emerge at the cell surface when processed through central (cell body) or remote (dendrites) secretory pathways. We reveal rapid and direct long-range trafficking of centrally processed proteins deep into the dendritic arbor to synaptic sites. Select proteins were also trafficked to the plasma membrane of the axon initial segment, revealing a novel surface trafficking hotspot. Proteins locally processed through dendritic secretory networks were widely dispersed before surface insertion, challenging assumptions for precise trafficking at remote sites. These experiments provide new insights into compartmentalized secretory trafficking and showcase the tunability and spatiotemporal control of zapERtrap, which will have broad applications for regulating cell signaling and function.

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