Identification of the skeletal remains of a murder victim by DNA analysis

Abstract

THERE is considerable anthropological and forensic interest in the possibility of DNA typing skeletal remains. Trace amounts of DNA can be recovered even from 5,500-year-old bones and multicopy human mitochondrial DNA sequences can frequently be amplified from such DNA using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR)1,2. But given the sensitivity of PCR, it is very difficult to exclude contaminating material. We now report the successful identification of the 8-year-old skeletal remains of a murder victim, by comparative typing of nuclear microsatellite markers3–5 in the remains and in the presumptive parents of the victim. This analysis establishes the authenticity of the bone DNA and the feasibility of bone DNA typing in forensic investigations.

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Hagelberg, E., Gray, I. & Jeffreys, A. Identification of the skeletal remains of a murder victim by DNA analysis. Nature 352, 427–429 (1991). https://doi.org/10.1038/352427a0

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