The application of reduced-size short tandem repeat primer sets in the analysis of human DNA from degraded and compromised samples

Kerry Lynn Opel, Florida International University


The purpose of this research was to demonstrate the applicability of reduced-size STR (Miniplex) primer sets to challenging samples and to provide the forensic community with new information regarding the analysis of degraded and inhibited DNA. The Miniplex primer sets were validated in accordance with guidelines set forth by the Scientific Working Group on DNA Analysis Methods (SWGDAM) in order to demonstrate the scientific validity of the kits. The Miniplex sets were also used in the analysis of DNA extracted from human skeletal remains and telogen hair. In addition, a method for evaluating the mechanism of PCR inhibition was developed using qPCR. The Miniplexes were demonstrated to be a robust and sensitive tool for the analysis of DNA with as low as 100 pg of template DNA. They also proved to be better than commercial kits in the analysis of DNA from human skeletal remains, with 64% of samples tested producing full profiles, compared to 16% for a commercial kit. The Miniplexes also produced amplification of nuclear DNA from human telogen hairs, with partial profiles obtained from as low as 60 pg of template DNA. These data suggest smaller PCR amplicons may provide a useful alternative to mitochondrial DNA for forensic analysis of degraded DNA from human skeletal remains, telogen hairs, and other challenging samples. In the evaluation of inhibition by qPCR, the effect of amplicon length and primer melting temperature was evaluated in order to determine the binding mechanisms of different PCR inhibitors. Several mechanisms were indicated by the inhibitors tested, including binding of the polymerase, binding to the DNA, and effects on the processivity of the polymerase during primer extension. The data obtained from qPCR illustrated a method by which the type of inhibitor could be inferred in forensic samples, and some methods of reducing inhibition for specific inhibitors were demonstrated. An understanding of the mechanism of the inhibitors found in forensic samples will allow analysts to select the proper methods for inhibition removal or the type of analysis that can be performed, and will increase the information that can be obtained from inhibited samples.

Subject Area

Forensic anthropology|Analytical chemistry

Recommended Citation

Opel, Kerry Lynn, "The application of reduced-size short tandem repeat primer sets in the analysis of human DNA from degraded and compromised samples" (2008). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3343357.