creating a
healthier future
Matthew Holt
Group leader

Matthew Holt received his B.Sc. (Hons) in Applied Biochemistry from the University of Liverpool, graduating with the Glaxo-Wellcome Prize for distinguished performance. Inspired by an internship at Eli Lilly during his studies, he decided to pursue doctoral studies in neuroscience at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, working on the physiology of synaptic vesicle mobility and neurotransmission in retinal neurons. His interest in the molecular mechanisms governing vesicle supply to release sites led him to pursue post-doctoral work at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, which led to publication of a seminal paper on synaptic vesicle structure in Cell, which is now routinely cited in neuroscience text books. Intrigued by the notion that astrocytes play active roles in shaping synaptic transmission, on establishing his independent group at the KU Leuven, Dr. Holt pivoted his research to study aspects of astrocyte-neuron interactions, and has made major contributions to our understanding of astrocyte diversity and how it shapes local neural circuit function. As of February 2022, Matthew Holt is a group leader and ERA Chair Holder at i3S, where he runs the Synapse Biology group. Work in the group continues to be focused on the key question of functional heterogeneity, specifically the different molecular mechanisms underlying astrocyte-neuron interactions at excitatory and inhibitory synapses. A major translational spin-off from his work has been the design and exploitation of novel blood-brain barrier crossing viral vector systems for gene delivery, which allow sustained local production and secretion of therapeutics from CNS cells – the so-called ‘biopharmacy’ concept.

The quality of Dr. Holt’s work has been recognized by the award of multiple prestigious European Research Council (ERC) grants. He is a regular speaker at international conferences and has also been an invited instructor at the FENS Cajal School for Advanced Neuroscience Techniques. Dr. Holt currently serves as a scientific advisor to Resolve Biosciences. He also holds several patents from his work on AAV-based therapeutics and is co-founder of Aila Biotech, which was set up to exploit this work.

Selected Publications

Wahis J., Hennes M., Arckens L., Holt M.G.,
Star power: the emerging role of astrocytes as neuronal partners during cortical plasticity. Current Opinion in Neurobiology67:174-182, 2021. [Journal: Review] [CI: 10] [IF: 7,1]
DOI: 10.1016/j.conb.2020.12.001 SCOPUS: 85098074813.

Escartin C., Galea E., Lakatos A., O’Callaghan J.P., Petzold G.C., Serrano-Pozo A., Steinhäuser C., Volterra A., Carmignoto G., Agarwal A., Allen N.J., Araque A., Barbeito L., Barzilai A., Bergles D.E., Bonvento G., Butt A.M., Chen W.T., Cohen-Salmon M., Cunningham C., Deneen B., De Strooper B., Díaz-Castro B., Farina C., Freeman M., Gallo V., Goldman J.E., Goldman S.A., Götz M., Gutiérrez A., Haydon P.G., Heiland D.H., Hol E.M., Holt M.G., Iino M., Kastanenka K.V., Kettenmann H., Khakh B.S., Koizumi S., Lee C.J., Liddelow S.A., MacVicar B.A., Magistretti P., Messing A., Mishra A., Molofsky A.V., Murai K.K., Norris C.M., Okada S., Oliet S.H.R., Oliveira J.F., Panatier A., Parpura V., Pekna M., Pekny M., Pellerin L., Perea G., Pérez-Nievas B.G., Pfrieger F.W., Poskanzer K.E., Quintana F.J., Ransohoff R.M., Riquelme-Perez M., Robel S., Rose C.R., Rothstein J.D., Rouach N., Rowitch D.H., Semyanov A., Sirko S., Sontheimer H., Swanson R.A., Vitorica J., Wanner I.B., Wood L.B., Wu J., Zheng B., Zimmer E.R., Zorec R., Sofroniew M.V., Verkhratsky A.,
Reactive astrocyte nomenclature, definitions, and future directions. Nature Neuroscience24(3):312-325, 2021. [Journal: Review] [CI: 901] [IF: 28,8]
DOI: 10.1038/s41593-020-00783-4 SCOPUS: 85100133612.

Bayraktar O.A., Bartels T., Holmqvist S., Kleshchevnikov V., Martirosyan A., Polioudakis D., Ben Haim L., Young A.M.H., Batiuk M.Y., Prakash K., Brown A., Roberts K., Paredes M.F., Kawaguchi R., Stockley J.H., Sabeur K., Chang S.M., Huang E., Hutchinson P., Ullian E.M., Hemberg M., Coppola G., Holt M.G., Geschwind D.H., Rowitch D.H.,
Astrocyte layers in the mammalian cerebral cortex revealed by a single-cell in situ transcriptomic map. Nature Neuroscience23(4):500-509, 2020. [Journal: Article] [CI: 233] [IF: 24,9]
DOI: 10.1038/s41593-020-0602-1 SCOPUS: 85081379147.

Batiuk M.Y., Martirosyan A., Wahis J., de Vin F., Marneffe C., Kusserow C., Koeppen J., Viana J.F., Oliveira J.F., Voet T., Ponting C.P., Belgard T.G., Holt M.G.,
Identification of region-specific astrocyte subtypes at single cell resolution. Nature Communications11(1):, 2020. [Journal: Article] [CI: 358] [IF: 14,9]
DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-14198-8 SCOPUS: 85081389044.

Slezak M., Kandler S., Van Veldhoven P.P., Van den Haute C., Bonin V., Holt M.G.,
Distinct Mechanisms for Visual and Motor-Related Astrocyte Responses in Mouse Visual Cortex. Current Biology29(18):3120-3127.e5, 2019. [Journal: Article] [CI: 30] [IF: 9,6]
DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2019.07.078 SCOPUS: 85072241720.

Batiuk M.Y., De Vin F., Duqué S.I., Li C., Saito T., Saido T., Fiers M., Belgard T.G., Holt M.G.,
An immunoaffinity-based method for isolating ultrapure adult astrocytes based on ATP1B2 targeting by the ACSA-2 antibody. Journal of Biological Chemistry292(21):8874-8891, 2017. [Journal: Article] [CI: 60] [IF: 4]
DOI: 10.1074/jbc.M116.765313 SCOPUS: 85019654835.