Exocytosis is an essential membrane traffic event mediating the secretion of intracellular protein contents such as hormones and neurotransmitters as well as the incorporation of membrane proteins and lipids to specific domains of the plasma membrane. As a fundamental cell biological process, exocytosis is crucial for cell growth, cell-cell communication, and cell polarity establishment. For most eukaryotic cells exocytosis is polarized. A multiprotein complex, named the exocyst, is required for polarized exocytosis from yeast to mammals. The exocyst consists of eight components: Sec3, Sec5, Sec6, Sec8, Sec10, Sec15, Exo70, and Exo84. They are localized to sites of active exocytosis, where they mediate the targeting and tethering of post-Golgi secretory vesicles for subsequent membrane fusion. Here we review the progress made in the understanding of the exocyst and its role in polarized exocytosis.
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