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J Soc Biol. 2003;197(4):351-9.

Efficacy and limits of genotyping low copy number (LCN) DNA samples by multiplex PCR of STR loci.

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1
Netherlands Forensic Institute-Volmerlaan 17, 2288 GD Rijswijk, The Netherlands. a.kloosterman@nfi.minjus.nl

Abstract

In this study, we have evaluated the efficacy and the validity of the AmpFISTR SGM plus multiplex PCR typing system when Low Copy Number (LCN) amounts of DNA are processed. The characteristics of SGM plus profiles produced under LCN conditions were studied on the basis of heterozygote balance, between loci balance and stutter proportion based on profiles that were obtained from a variety of mock casework samples. These experiments clearly showed that LCN DNA profiles carry their own characteristic features, which must be taken into account during interpretation. Herewith, we confirmed the data of recent other studies that a comprehensive interpretation strategy is dependent upon multiple replication of the PCR using the same extract together with the proper use of extraction and amplification controls. The limitations of LCN DNA analysis were further studied in a series of single cell PCR experiments using an amplification regime of 34 PCR cycles. The allele dropout phenomenon was demonstrated to its full extent when single cells were analysed. However, the "consensus profile" which was obtained from separate single cell PCR experiments matched the actual profile of the cell donor. Single cell PCR experiments also showed that a further increase of the number of PCR cycles did not result in enhanced sensitivity and had a highly negative effect on the balance of this multiplex PCR system which hampered correct interpretation of the profile. Also, the potential of LCN typing in analysing mixtures of DNA was investigated. It was clearly shown that LCN typing had no advantages over 28 cycles amplification in the detection of the minor component of DNA-mixtures. In addition to the 34 cycles PCR amplification regime, the utility of a new approach that involved reamplification of the 28 cycle SGM plus PCR products with an extra 6 PCR cycles after the addition of fresh AmpliTaq Gold DNA Polymerase was investigated. This approach provides the scientist with an extra typing result that enhances the reliability of the consensus profile, which is commonly retrieved from two separate 34 cycle PCR results. Furthermore, the 28 + 6 cycles approach may be used to screen LCN samples for their potential to produce a 34 PCR cycle profile. Finally and as a last resort the 28 + 6 cycles approach can be used in those cases where no further extract from the crime sample is available. Finally, the potential of LCN typing was demonstrated in typing samples from non-probative and actual casework examples. From a high proportion of samples that failed to demonstrate SGM plus typing results using the standard protocol of 28 cycles, at least partial profiles could be obtained after LCN methods were used. For example, LCN typing was applied in a case where 10-year old samples from bones and teeth that were retrieved from a mass grave had to be identified. This study resulted in the positive identification of a number of victims by comparing the LCN DNA profiles with the profiles from putative relatives. The value of LCN DNA typing was further demonstrated in a strangulation case. The throat of the victim was sampled and only after 34 PCR cycles were we able to reveal that the evidential sample contained a distinct mixture of the victim's own DNA and the DNA of the defendant.

PMID:
15005516
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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