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Int J Legal Med. 2012 Jan;126(1):63-70. doi: 10.1007/s00414-011-0566-5. Epub 2011 Apr 8.

In situ labeling of DNA reveals interindividual variation in nuclear DNA breakdown in hair and may be useful to predict success of forensic genotyping of hair.

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  • 1Research Division of Biology and Pathobiology of the Skin, Department of Dermatology, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.

Abstract

Hair fibers are formed by keratinocytes of the hair follicle in a process that involves the breakdown of the nucleus including DNA. Accordingly, DNA can be isolated with high yield from the hair bulb which contains living keratinocytes, whereas it is difficult to prepare from the distal portions of hair fibers and from shed hair. Nevertheless, forensic investigations are successful in a fraction of shed hair samples found at crime scenes. Here, we report that interindividual differences in the completeness of DNA removal from hair corneocytes are major determinants of DNA content and success rates of forensic investigations of hair. Distal hair samples were permeabilized with ammonia and incubated with the DNA-specific dye Hoechst 33258 to label DNA in situ. Residual nuclear DNA was visualized under the fluorescence microscope. Hair from some donors did not contain any stainable nuclei, whereas hair of other donors contained a variable number of DNA-positive nuclear remnants. The number of DNA-containing nuclear remnants per millimeter of hair correlated with the amount of DNA that could be extracted and amplified by quantitative PCR. When individual hairs were investigated, only hairs in which DNA could be labeled in situ gave positive results in short tandem repeat typing. This study reveals that the completeness of DNA degradation during cornification of the hair is a polymorphic trait. Furthermore, our results suggest that in situ labeling of DNA in hair may be useful for predicting the probability of success of forensic analysis of nuclear DNA in shed hair.

PMID:
21475959
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3252700
Free PMC Article
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