Targeted cell entry of lentiviral vectors
- Lentiviral vectors mediate gene transfer into dividing and most non-dividing cells. Thereby, they stably integrate the transgene into the host cell genome. For this reason, lentiviral vectors are a promising tool for gene therapy. However, safety and efficiency of lentiviral mediated gene transfer still needs to be optimised. Ideally, cell entry should be restricted to the cell population relevant for a particular therapeutic application. Furthermore, lentiviral vectors able to transduce quiescent lymphocytes are desirable. Although many approaches were followed to engineer retroviral envelope proteins, an effective and universally applicable system for retargeting of lentiviral cell entry is still not available. Just before the experimental work of this thesis was started, retargeting of measles virus (MV) cell entry was achieved. This virus has two types of envelope glycoproteins, the hemagglutinin (H) protein responsible for receptor recognition and the fusion (F) protein mediating membrane fusion. For retargeting, the H protein was mutated in its interaction sites for the native MV receptors and a ligand or a single-chain antibody (scAb) was fused to its ectodomain. It was hypothesised that the retargeting system of MV can be transferred to lentiviral vectors by pseudotyping human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1) derived vector particles with the MV glycoproteins. As the unmodified MV glycoproteins did not pseudotype HIV vectors, two F and 15 H protein variants carrying stepwise truncations or amino acid (aa) exchanges in their cytoplasmic tails were screened for their ability to form MV-HIV pseudotypes. The combinations Hcd18/Fcd30, Hcd19/Fcd30 and Hcd24+4A/Fcd30 led to most efficient pseudotype formation with titers above 10exp6 transducing units /ml, using concentrated particles. The F cytoplasmic tail was truncated by 30 aa and the H cytoplasmic tail was truncated by 18, 19 or 24 residues with four added alanines after the start methionine in the latter case. Western blot analysis indicated that particle incorporation of the MV glycoproteins was enhanced upon truncation of their cytoplasmic tails. With the MV-HIV vectors high titers on different cell lines expressing one or both MV receptors were obtained, whereas MV receptor-negative cells remained untransduced. Titers were enhanced using an optimal H to F plasmid ratio (1:7) during vector particle production. Based on the described pseudotyping with the MV glycoprotein variants, HIV vectors retargeted to the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) or the B cell surface marker CD20 were generated. For the production of the retargeted vectors MVaEGFR-HIV and MVaCD20-HIV, Fcd30 together with a native receptor blind Hcd18 protein, displaying at its ectodomain either the ligand EGF or a scAb directed against CD20 were used. With these vectors, gene transfer into target receptor-positive cells was several orders of magnitude more efficient than into control cells. The almost complete absence of background transduction of non-target cells was e.g. demonstrated in mixed cell populations, where the CD20-targeting vector selectively eliminated CD20-positive cells upon suicide gene transfer. Remarkably, transduction of activated primary human CD20-positive B cells was much more efficient with the MVaCD20-HIV vector than with the standard pseudotype vector VSV-G-HIV. Even more surprisingly, MVaCD20-HIV vectors were able to transduce quiescent primary human B cells, which until then had been resistant towards lentiviral gene transfer. The most critical step during the production of MV-HIV pseudotypes was the identification of H cytoplasmic tail mutants that allowed pseudotyping while retaining the fusion helper function. In contrast to previously inefficient targeting strategies, the reason for the success of this novel targeting system must be based on the separation of the receptor recognition and fusion functions onto two different proteins. Furthermore, with the CD20-targeting vector transduction of quiescent B cells was demonstrated for the first time. Own data and literature data suggest that CD20 binding and hyper-cross-linking by the vector particles results in calcium influx and thus activation of quiescent B cells. Alternatively this feature may be based on a residual binding activity of the MV glycoproteins to the native MV receptors that is insufficient for entry but induces cytoskeleton rearrangements dissolving the post-entry block of HIV vectors. Hence, in this thesis efficient retargeting of lentiviral vectors and transduction of quiescent cells was combined. This novel targeting strategy should be easily adaptable to many other target molecules by extending the modified MV H protein with appropriate specific domains or scAbs. It should now be possible to tailor lentiviral vectors for highly selective gene transfer into any desired target cell population with an unprecedented degree of efficiency.
On the semantics and pragmantics of explicit performatives : a parenthetical experiment
Verena M. Mayer
- If we want to develop a semantic analysis for explicit performatives such as I promise you to free Willy, we are faced with the following puzzle: In order to account for the speech act expressed by the performative verb, one can assume that the so-called performative clause is purely performative and provides the illocutionary force of the speech act whose content is given by the semantic object denoted by the complement clause. Yet under this perspective, the performative clause that is, next to the performative verb, the indexicals I and you that refer to the speaker and to the addressee of the utterance context is semantically invisible and does not contribute compositionally its meaning to the meaning of the entire explicit performative sentence. Conversely, if we account for the truth conditional contribution of the performative clause and deny that the meaning of the performative verb is purely performative, then we have to find a way to account for the speech act expressed by the performative verb. Of course, there is already the widely accepted and very appealing indirectness account for explicit performative utterances developed by Bach & Harnish (1979). Roughly, Bach and Harnish solve this puzzle in deriving the performativity by means of a pragmatic inference process. According to them, the important speech act performed by means of the utterance of the explicit performative sentence is a kind of the conventionalized indirect speech act. However, the boundary between semantics and pragmatics can be drawn in many various ways. Therefore, I think there could be other perspectives regarding the interface between the truth-functional treatment of the declarative explicit performative sentences and the speech acts performed with their utterances and which are expressed by the performative verbs. Hence, this thesis consists in the experiment to develop a further analysis and to check out its consequences with respect to the semantics and pragmatics of explicit performative utterances and the new interface emerged. Briefly, the experiment runs as follows: First, I develop an analysis for explicit performative sentences framed by parenthetical structures such as in (1)(a). In a second step, this parenthetical analysis is applied to the proper Austinian explicit performative sentences in (1)(b). (1) a. Tomorrow, I promise you this, I will teach them Tyrolean songs. b. I promise you that I will teach them Tyrolean songs. To analyze at first explicit performatives framed by parenthetical structures bears the convenience that we are faced with two utterances of two main clauses. In (1)(a) there is the utterance of the host sentence Tomorrow I will teach them Tyrolean songs, and the utterance of the explicit parenthetical I promise you this, where the demonstrative this refers to the utterance of Tomorrow I will teach them Tyrolean songs. Since speakers perform speech acts with utterances of main clauses, I assume that the meaning of the explicit parenthetical I promise you this specifies that the actual illocutionary force of the utterance of Tomorrow I will teach them Tyrolean songs is the illocutionary force of a promise. Hence, instead of deriving an indirect illocutionary force by means of a pragmatic inference schema, we can deal with an ordinary direct speech act that is performed with the utterance of the host sentence. This kind of analysis stresses the particular discourse function of explicit performative utterances. Performative verbs are used whenever the contextual information is not sufficient to determine the illocutionary force of the corresponding implicit speech act. The resulting consequences of the parenthetical analysis are interesting since they cast a different light on performative verbs. Surprisingly, the performative verbs are not performative at all. They do not constitute the execution of a speech act, but are execution supporting. Instead of constituting the particular illocutionary force, they merely specify the illocutionary force of the utterance of the host sentence. For instance, the speaker utters the explicit parenthetical I promise you this for specifying what he is simultaneously doing. Hence the speaker does not succeed in performing the promise simply because he is uttering I promise you this. Rather, by means of the information conveyed by the utterance of I promise you this, the potential illocutionary forces of the utterance of the host sentence are disambiguated. Thus, it is not the case that explicit parentheticals are trivially true when uttered. Their function is more complex. Their self-verifying property (‘saying so makes it so’) is explained by means of disambiguation. Furthermore, according to the parenthetical analysis, instead of being purely performative, the performative verbs contribute compositionally their meanings to the truth conditions of the entire explicit performative sentence. Together with its consequences, this analysis is applied to the proper Austinian performatives, which display subordination. I assume that regardless of their structure, explicit performatives always semantically and pragmatically behave as the parenthetical analysis predicts.
Opting out of the great inflation : German monetary policy after the break down of Bretton Woods
- During the turbulent 1970s and 1980s the Bundesbank established an outstanding reputation in the world of central banking. Germany achieved a high degree of domestic stability and provided safe haven for investors in times of turmoil in the international financial system. Eventually the Bundesbank provided the role model for the European Central Bank. Hence, we examine an episode of lasting importance in European monetary history. The purpose of this paper is to highlight how the Bundesbank monetary policy strategy contributed to this success. We analyze the strategy as it was conceived, communicated and refined by the Bundesbank itself. We propose a theoretical framework (following Söderström, 2005) where monetary targeting is interpreted, first and foremost, as a commitment device. In our setting, a monetary target helps anchoring inflation and inflation expectations. We derive an interest rate rule and show empirically that it approximates the way the Bundesbank conducted monetary policy over the period 1975-1998. We compare the Bundesbank´s monetary policy rule with those of the FED and of the Bank of England. We find that the Bundesbank´s policy reaction function was characterized by strong persistence of policy rates as well as a strong response to deviations of inflation from target and to the activity growth gap. In contrast, the response to the level of the output gap was not significant. In our empirical analysis we use real-time data, as available to policy-makers at the time. JEL Classification: E31, E32, E41, E52, E58
Concept of Purusa (Akal Purukh) as God : in the Vedas and the Sri Guru Granth Sahib
Roop Kishor Shastri
Towards realistic modelling of free-solution electrophoresis : a case study on charged macromolecules
Kai Christian Grass
- This thesis contributes to the field of soft matter research and studies the importance of hydrodynamic interactions during free-solution electrophoresis of linear polyelectrolytes by means of coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulations including full electro-hydrodynamic interactions. The center of attention is the specific role of hydrodynamic interactions on the electrophoretic behaviour of charged macromolecules. Points of interest are the dependence of hydrodynamic interactions on the chain length, the chain flexibility and the surrounding counterions, and their combined influence on important observables such as the static chain conformations and the dynamic transport coefficients, i.e., the diffusion and the electrophoretic mobility. These problems are addressed by extensive computer simulations that are quantitatively matched with experimental results. Existing theoretical predictions are carefully examined and are augmented by the observations in this thesis.
Validation of version-4.61 methane and nitrous oxide observed by MIPAS
Claude C. Camy-Peyret
Martine De Mazière
- The ENVISAT validation programme for the atmospheric instruments MIPAS, SCIAMACHY and GOMOS is based on a number of balloon-borne, aircraft, satellite and ground-based correlative measurements. In particular the activities of validation scientists were coordinated by ESA within the ENVISAT Stratospheric Aircraft and Balloon Campaign or ESABC. As part of a series of similar papers on other species [this issue] and in parallel to the contribution of the individual validation teams, the present paper provides a synthesis of comparisons performed between MIPAS CH4 and N2O profiles produced by the current ESA operational software (Instrument Processing Facility version 4.61 or IPF v4.61, full resolution MIPAS data covering the period 9 July 2002 to 26 March 2004) and correlative measurements obtained from balloon and aircraft experiments as well as from satellite sensors or from ground-based instruments. In the middle stratosphere, no significant bias is observed between MIPAS and correlative measurements, and MIPAS is providing a very consistent and global picture of the distribution of CH4 and N2O in this region. In average, the MIPAS CH4 values show a small positive bias in the lower stratosphere of about 5%. A similar situation is observed for N2O with a positive bias of 4%. In the lower stratosphere/upper troposphere (UT/LS) the individual used MIPAS data version 4.61 still exhibits some unphysical oscillations in individual CH4 and N2O profiles caused by the processing algorithm (with almost no regularization). Taking these problems into account, the MIPAS CH4 and N2O profiles are behaving as expected from the internal error estimation of IPF v4.61 and the estimated errors of the correlative measurements.
Stockholding: from participation to location and to participation spillovers
- This paper provides a joint analysis of household stockholding participation, stock location among stockholding modes, and participation spillovers, using data from the US Survey of Consumer Finances. Our multivariate choice model matches observed participation rates, conditional and unconditional, and asset location patterns. Financial education and sophistication strongly affect direct stockholding and mutual fund participation, while social interactions affect stockholding through retirement accounts only. Household characteristics influence stockholding through retirement accounts conditional on owning retirement accounts, unlike what happens with stockholding through mutual funds. Although stockholding is more common among retirement account owners, this fact is mainly due to their characteristics that led them to buy retirement accounts in the first place rather than to any informational advantages gained through retirement account ownership itself. Finally, our results suggest that, taking stockholding as given, stock location is not arbitrary but crucially depends on investor characteristics. JEL Classification: G11, E21, D14, C35
Analyzing interest rate risk : stochastic volatility in the term structure of government bond yields
- We propose a Nelson-Siegel type interest rate term structure model where the underlying yield factors follow autoregressive processes with stochastic volatility. The factor volatilities parsimoniously capture risk inherent to the term structure and are associated with the time-varying uncertainty of the yield curve’s level, slope and curvature. Estimating the model based on U.S. government bond yields applying Markov chain Monte Carlo techniques we find that the factor volatilities follow highly persistent processes. We show that slope and curvature risk have explanatory power for bond excess returns and illustrate that the yield and volatility factors are closely related to industrial capacity utilization, inflation, monetary policy and employment growth. JEL Classification: C5, E4, G1
Financial advisors: a case of babysitters?
- We merge administrative information from a large German discount brokerage firm with regional data to examine if financial advisors improve portfolio performance. Our data track accounts of 32,751 randomly selected individual customers over 66 months and allow direct comparison of performance across self-managed accounts and accounts run by, or in consultation with, independent financial advisors. In contrast to the picture painted by simple descriptive statistics, econometric analysis that corrects for the endogeneity of the choice of having a financial advisor suggests that advisors are associated with lower total and excess account returns, higher portfolio risk and probabilities of losses, and higher trading frequency and portfolio turnover relative to what account owners of given characteristics tend to achieve on their own. Regression analysis of who uses an IFA suggests that IFAs are matched with richer, older investors rather than with poorer, younger ones.
Venture capital exit rights
- Theorists argue that exit rights can mitigate hold-up problems in venture capital. Using a hand-collected data-set of venture capital contracts from Germany we show that exit rights are included more frequently in venture capital contracts when a hold-up problem associated with the venture capitalist's exit decision is likely. Examples include drag-along and tag-along rights. Additionally, we find that almost all exit rights are allocated to the venture capitalist rather than to the entrepreneur. In addition, we show that besides the basic hold-up mechanism there are other mechanisms such as ex-ante bargaining power and the degree of pledgeable income that drive the allocation of exit rights. JEL Classification: G24, G34, D80