in vitro DNA repair, translesion synthesis, base excision repair, DNA damage, forensic
DNA extracted from biological stains is often intractable to analysis. This may due to a number of factors including a low copy number (LCN) of starting molecules, the presence of soluble inhibitors or damaged DNA templates. Remedies may be available to the forensic scientist to deal with LCN templates and soluble inhibitors but none presently exist for damaged DNA. In fact, only recently has the biochemical nature, the extent of DNA damage in physiological stains and the point at which the damage inflicted upon a particular sample precludes the ability to obtain a genetic profile for purposes of identification been examined. The primary aims of this work were first to ascertain the types of DNA damage encountered in forensically relevant stains, correlating the occurrence this damage with the partial or total loss of a genotype, and then to attempt the repair of the damage by means of in vitro DNA repair systems. The initial focus of the work was the detection of damage caused by exogenous, environmental sources, primarily UV irradiation, but also factors such as heat, humidity and microorganism growth. Results showed that the primary causes of the damage that resulted in profile loss were strand breaks, both single and double stranded, as well as modifications to the DNA structure that inhibited its amplification. Armed with this knowledge, the next focus was the repair of the damage by means of in vitro DNA systems. Efforts have been concentrated on single strand break/gap repair and translesion synthesis assays. By modifying the assays and employing various combinations of the systems, a genetic signature has been recovered from previously intractable samples. Additionally, the effects that various storage conditions have on the DNA in physiological stains stored in a laboratory were examined. The optimal long term storage conditions for biological evidence has been a matter of debate in the forensic community for some time. But, no comprehensive study had previously been undertaken to describe the effects of dehydration and temperature on degradation and the ability to obtain a genetic profile on bloodstains kept in different types of storage media at a range of temperatures. To examine this, bloodstains were either allowed to dry overnight or placed in the storage medium while still wet and were stored at room temperature, 4oC or 30oC for up to four years. Results showed that specimens dehydrated prior to storage were very stable, and these bloodstains showed no degradation or loss of a genetic profile for up to four years.
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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Arts and Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Hall, Ashley, "Assessment And In Vitro Repair Of Damaged Dna Templates From Forensic Stains" (2005). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 562.