Analysis of the presynaptic action potential’s (APsyn) role in synaptic facilitation in hippocampal pyramidal neurons has been difficult due to size limitations of axons. We overcame these size barriers by combining high-resolution optical recordings of membrane potential, exocytosis, and Ca2+ in cultured hippocampal neurons. These recordings revealed a critical and selective role for Kv1 channel inactivation in synaptic facilitation of excitatory hippocampal neurons. Presynaptic Kv1 channel inactivation was mediated by the Kvβ1 subunit and had a surprisingly rapid onset that was readily apparent even in brief physiological stimulation paradigms including paired-pulse stimulation. Genetic depletion of Kvβ1 blocked all broadening of the APsyn during high-frequency stimulation and eliminated synaptic facilitation without altering the initial probability of vesicle release. Thus, using all quantitative optical measurements of presynaptic physiology, we reveal a critical role for presynaptic Kv channels in synaptic facilitation at presynaptic terminals of the hippocampus upstream of the exocytic machinery.
synapse, potassium channel, action potential, exocytosis, synaptic plasticity