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- Somatic depolarization spreads strongly into stellate cell axons
- Depolarization results in ultra-rapid AP broadening and synaptic facilitation
- AP plasticity is conferred by fast-inactivating Kv3 subunits at boutons
- Depolarization-induced plasticity is regulated by presynaptic Ih currents
In many neurons, subthreshold depolarization in the soma can transiently increase action-potential (AP)-evoked neurotransmission via analog-to-digital facilitation. The mechanisms underlying this form of short-term synaptic plasticity are unclear, in part, due to the relative inaccessibility of the axon to direct physiological interrogation. Using voltage imaging and patch-clamp recording from presynaptic boutons of cerebellar stellate interneurons, we observed that depolarizing somatic potentials readily spread into the axon, resulting in AP broadening, increased spike-evoked Ca2+ entry, and enhanced neurotransmission strength. Kv3 channels, which drive AP repolarization, rapidly inactivated upon incorporation of Kv3.4 subunits. This leads to fast susceptibility to depolarization-induced spike broadening and analog facilitation independent of Ca2+-dependent protein kinase C signaling. The spread of depolarization into the axon was attenuated by hyperpolarization-activated currents (Ih currents) in the maturing cerebellum, precluding analog facilitation. These results suggest that analog-to-digital facilitation is tempered by development or experience in stellate cells.