A Novel Method for Rapid and Selective Extraction of Male DNA from Rape Kits using Alkaline Lysis and Pressure Cycling Technology (PCT)

Deepthi V. Nori

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Abstract

There is an increasing demand for DNA analysis because of the sensitivity of the method and the ability to uniquely identify and distinguish individuals with a high degree of certainty. But this demand has led to huge backlogs in evidence lockers since the current DNA extraction protocols require long processing time. The DNA analysis procedure becomes more complicated when analyzing sexual assault casework samples where the evidence contains more than one contributor. Additional processing to separate different cell types in order to simplify the final data interpretation further contributes to the existing cumbersome protocols. The goal of the present project is to develop a rapid and efficient extraction method that permits selective digestion of mixtures.

Selective recovery of male DNA was achieved with as little as 15 minutes lysis time upon exposure to high pressure under alkaline conditions. Pressure cycling technology (PCT) is carried out in a barocycler that has a small footprint and is semi-automated. Typically less than 10% male DNA is recovered using the standard extraction protocol for rape kits, almost seven times more male DNA was recovered from swabs using this novel method. Various parameters including instrument setting and buffer composition were optimized to achieve selective recovery of sperm DNA. Some developmental validation studies were also done to determine the efficiency of this method in processing samples exposed to various conditions that can affect the quality of the extraction and the final DNA profile.

Easy to use interface, minimal manual interference and the ability to achieve high yields with simple reagents in a relatively short time make this an ideal method for potential application in analyzing sexual assault samples.