Thomas Jefferson University

Dalva, Matthew

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Matthew Dalva, PhD

Contact Dr. Dalva

900 Walnut Street
JHN 4th floor
Philadelphia, PA 19107

(215) 503-0997
(215) 503-4358 fax

Research and Clinical Interests

The long-range goal of my research program is to understand how synapses and functional neural circuits are generated.

The structure of the nervous system varies tremendously across phylogeny; organisms such as the C. elegans function with a few hundred neurons, whereas humans have tens of billions. Yet communication in all neural circuits is controlled by a remarkably similar, highly specialized site of cell-cell contact known as a synapse. The goal of my research program is to understand how excitatory spine synapses are formed and lost, and what impact the normal morphology and numbers of these structures have on brain function. Because the excitatory synapse is likely to be central to a number of diseases such as addiction, Alzheimer's disease, and autism, our research will have broad impact.

To date, our work has focused on elucidating the molecular mechanisms that guide how excitatory spine synapses are formed and lost, and what impact the normal morphology and numbers of these structures have on brain function. In addition we are developing a set of simple but novel genetically encoded fluorescent phosphorylation reporters (Phos) that allow us to visualize and quantify both increases and decreases in tyrosine kinase signaling induced by specific kinases. Building on the tools, techniques, and expertise we have developed we are now turning to the issue of how neurons move to the proper locations within the adult brain.

To generate functional neuronal circuits and form the proper synapses, neural progenitor cells must not only differentiate into the correct neuronal subtypes, they must also migrate to appropriate locations in the brain. This question is important not only to understand how circuits are formed, but because to meet the therapeutic promise in a wide range of human CNS diseases including addiction, neurodegenerative disorders, and stroke, how the migration and differentiation of endogenous neural progenitor is controlled must understand.

Overall, by integrating a reductionist approach with careful in vivo experiments we have the potential to generate transformative results that fundamentally advance our understanding of how synapses form, how neurons are guided, and how synapse density impacts circuit function. I am confident our work will continue to impact our understanding of basic nervous system function and provide new tools and strategies for functional recovery in malfunctioning neural networks.


Most Recent Peer-Reviewed Publications

  1. Positive surface charge of GluN1 N-terminus mediates the direct interaction with EphB2 and NMDAR mobility
  2. Ephrin-B3 controls excitatory synapse density through cell-cell competition for EphBs
  3. Levels of Par-1 kinase determine the localization of Bruchpilot at the Drosophila neuromuscular junction synapses
  4. EphBs and ephrin-Bs: Trans-synaptic organizers of synapse development and function
  5. Filopodia Conduct Target Selection in Cortical Neurons Using Differences in Signal Kinetics of a Single Kinase
  6. Synaptic nanomodules underlie the organization and plasticity of spine synapses
  7. Extracellular phosphorylation of a receptor tyrosine kinase controls synaptic localization of NMDA receptors and regulates pathological pain
  8. Synergistic integration of netrin and ephrin axon guidance signals by spinal motor neurons
  9. Anchoring and synaptic stability of PSD-95 is driven by ephrin-B3
  10. Behavioral phenotypes in males with XYY and possible role of increased NLGN4Y expression in autism features
  11. Regulation of synaptic development and function by the Drosophila PDZ protein Dyschronic
  12. Defects in synapse structure and function precede motor neuron degeneration in Drosophila models of FUS-related ALS
  13. New Imaging Tools to Study Synaptogenesis
  14. Neuron glia-related cell adhesion molecule (NrCAM) promotes topographic retinocollicular mapping.
  15. EphBs: An integral link between synaptic function and synaptopathies
  16. Ephrin regulation of synapse formation, function and plasticity
  17. EphB controls NMDA receptor function and synaptic targeting in a subunit-specific manner
  18. Preferential control of basal dendritic protrusions by EphB2
  19. Ephrin-B3 regulates glutamate receptor signaling at hippocampal synapses
  20. Ephecting excitatory synapse development