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Forensic Sci Int Genet. 2009 Mar;3(2):96-103. doi: 10.1016/j.fsigen.2008.11.007. Epub 2009 Jan 7.

A new multiplex-PCR comprising autosomal and y-specific STRs and mitochondrial DNA to analyze highly degraded material.

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Department of Legal Medicine, Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel, Germany.


The analysis of short tandem repeats is one of the most powerful tools in forensic genetics. Forensic practice sometimes requires the individualization of samples that may contain only highly degraded nuclear DNA, mitochondrial DNA or PCR inhibitors that hamper DNA amplification. We designed a new multiplex PCR with reduced size amplicons (<200 bp), providing a double sex determination (amelogenin plus two Y-STRs), the detection of two autosomal markers and the amplification of mitochondrial specific fragments from the hypervariable region I (HVI). Additionally, a quality sensor was developed to check for the presence of any PCR inhibitors. The new multiplex PCR shows a reproducible detection threshold down to 25 pg and gives signals even out of highly degraded materials. All signals are reproducible and reliable as it could be shown in comparison to results from commercially available STR multiplex-PCRs. In no case DNA fragments were detectable using any other assay when the quality sensor was not detectable. There was a good correlation between detection of mitochondrial specific fragments in the multiplex-PCR and success of subsequent sequencing of HVI region. The same could be shown for STR analysis: Most samples successfully analyzed in our PCR yielded at least a partial STR profile using a commercial STR kit. We present an assay that allows an easy, reliable, and cost efficient evaluation of DNA sample quality combined with a first rough sample individualization and sex determination suitable for forensic purposes. This assay may help the forensic lab personnel to decide on further sample processing.

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