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Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 410, Issue 24, pp 6165–6175 | Cite as

A complementary forensic ‘proteo-genomic’ approach for the direct identification of biological fluid traces under fingernails

  • Sathisha Kamanna
  • Julianne Henry
  • Nico Voelcker
  • Adrian Linacre
  • K. Paul Kirkbride
Research Paper

Abstract

Violent contact between individuals during a crime can result in body fluids becoming trapped under the fingernails of the individuals involved. The traces under fingernails represent valuable forensic evidence because DNA profiling can indicate from whom the trace originated and proteomic methods can be used to determine the type of fluid in the trace, thus providing evidence as to the circumstances surrounding the crime. Here, we present an initial study of an analytical strategy that involves two complementary techniques, direct PCR DNA profiling and direct mass spectrometry-based protein biomarker detection, for the comprehensive examination of traces of biological fluids gathered from underneath fingernails. With regard to protein biomarker detection, direct MALDI-ToF MS/MS is very sensitive, allowing results to be obtained from biological material present on only a few fibres plucked from a microswab used to collect the traces. Human cornulin, a protein biomarker for vaginal fluid, could be detected up to 5 h after it had been deposited under fingernails whereas haemoglobin, a biomarker for blood, is somewhat more persistent under fingernails and could be detected up to 18 h post-deposition. Bottom-up tandem mass spectrometry techniques were used to provide a high level of confidence in assigning the identity of protein biomarkers. nLC-ESI-qToF MS/MS offered higher levels of confidence and the ability to detect traces that had been present under fingernails for longer periods of time, but this performance came with the cost of longer analysis time and a more laborious sampling approach.

Graphical abstract

Keywords

Forensic science Haemoglobin Vaginal fluid MALDI-TOF MS 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to acknowledge Flinders Analytical and the Proteomics Centre at Flinders University. We also thank the volunteers who provided human body fluid samples and kind thanks to Dr. Jennifer Templeton and Ms. Alice Stephenson (Forensic Science SA) for conducting the DNA-profiling experiments.

Funding information

This project was supported by the Ross Vining Research Fund, which is administered by Forensic Science SA (South Australia).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

216_2018_1223_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (4.1 mb)
ESM 1 (PDF 4226 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sathisha Kamanna
    • 1
  • Julianne Henry
    • 2
  • Nico Voelcker
    • 3
  • Adrian Linacre
    • 1
  • K. Paul Kirkbride
    • 1
  1. 1.College of Science and EngineeringFlinders UniversityAdelaideAustralia
  2. 2.Forensic Science SAAdelaideAustralia
  3. 3.Melbourne Centre for NanofabricationMonash UniversityClaytonAustralia

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