The role of the Golgi apparatus and the Golgi-endoplasmic reticulum-lysosome complex (GERL) in the genesis of lysosomes was examined in differentiating and degenerating motor neurons of anuran larvae. Acid phosphatase, aryl sulfatase, and thiolacetic acid esterase were utilized as marker enzymes for the lysosomal system, while nucleoside diphosphatase and thiamine pyrophosphatase labeled the inner saccule(s) of the Golgi apparatus. Reduced osmium tetroxide was routinely deposited in the outer Golgi saccule regardless of the state of neuronal maturation. In all young neurons, the disposition of acid hydrolase reaction product paralleled the formation of GERL, with no lytic activity in the Golgi apparatus per se. Hypertrophy of the Golgi apparatus and GERL was observed in the early phases of degeneration, and both organelles apparently exhibit extensive hydrolytic activity. Dense bodies, autophagic vacuoles, and primary lysosomes were found arising from GERL, while the Golgi apparatus may produce primary lysosomal granules during regression. On the other hand, in differentiating neurons, hydrolytic activity was restricted to GERL and an occasional dense body and autophagic vacuole. These studies illustrate a parallelism between the development of GERL and genesis of primary and secondary lysosomes during neuronal cytodifferentiation, and implicate GERL and possibly the Golgi apparatus in lysosomal packaging in degenerating neurons.

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