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Identification of human remains by amplification and automated sequencing of mitochondrial DNA

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The highly decomposed remains of a corpse were identified by the amplification and direct sequencing of mitochondrial (mt) DNA. Degraded DNA was extracted from bone fragments and a necrotic skin sample and amplified at 2 hypervariable segments within the mitochondrial non-coding region using 2 rounds of nested PCR. Both strands of the amplified regions were sequenced and compared with each other to ensure fidelity of the data. Sequences from the bone and skin were found to be identical and matched data generated from a blood sample provided by a presumptive sister of the deceased. Thus, this evidence was consistent with the sister and the deceased being related.


Die hochgradig zersetzten Überbleibsel einer Leiche wurden mit Hilfe der Amplifikation und der direkten Sequenzierung der mitochondrialen DNA identifiziert. Degradierte DNA wurde von Knochenfragmenten und von einer nekrotischen Hautprobe extrahiert und in zwei hypervariablen Segmenten der mitochondrialen nicht-kodierenden Region amplifiziert unter Anwendung zweier Runden von „nested” PCR. Beiden Stränge der amplifizierten Regionen wurden sequenziert und miteinander verglichen, um die Vertrauenswürdigkeit der Daten zu sichern. Die Sequenzen von Knochen und von der Haut waren identisch und paßten zu den Daten aus einer Blutprobe, welche von einer mutmaßlichen Schwester des Verstorbenen herrührte. Dieser Beweis war somit konsistent mit der Annahme, daß Schwester und Verstorbene verwandt waren.

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Sullivan, K.M., Hopgood, R. & Gill, P. Identification of human remains by amplification and automated sequencing of mitochondrial DNA. Int J Leg Med 105, 83–86 (1992).

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