Individual-specific ‘fingerprints’ of human DNA

Abstract

Simple tandem-repetitive regions of DNA (or ‘minisatellites’) which are dispersed in the human genome frequently show substantial length polymorphism arising from unequal exchanges which alter the number of short tandem repeats in a minisatellite1–4. We have shown previously that the repeat elements in a subset of human minisatellites share a common 10–15-base-pair (bp) ‘core’ sequence which might act as a recombination signal in the generation of these hypervariable regions5. A hybridization probe consisting of the core repeated in tandem can detect many highly polymorphic minisatellites simultaneously to provide a set of genetic markers of general use in human linkage analysis5. We now show that other variant (core)n probes can detect additional sets of hypervariable minisatellites to produce somatically stable DNA ‘fingerprints’ which are completely specific to an individual (or to his or her identical twin) and can be applied directly to problems of human identification, including parenthood testing.

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