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Target Capture Enrichment of Nuclear SNP Markers for Massively Parallel Sequencing of Degraded and Mixed samples

NCJ Number
Forensic Science International-Genetics Volume: 34 Dated: May 2018 Pages: 186-196
Date Published
May 2018
11 pages

This study designed and tested a probe capture assay that targeted forensically relevant nuclear SNP markers for clonal and massively parallel sequencing (MPS) of degraded and limited DNA samples, as well as mixtures.


DNA from biological forensic samples can be highly fragmented and present in limited quantity. When DNA is highly fragmented, conventional PCR based Short Tandem Repeat (STR) analysis may fail as primer binding sites may not be present on a single template molecule. Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) can serve as an alternative type of genetic marker for analysis of degraded samples because the targeted variation is a single base; however, conventional PCR based SNP analysis methods still require intact primer binding sites for target amplification. Recently, probe capture methods for targeted enrichment have shown success in recovering degraded DNA as well as DNA from ancient bone samples using next-generation sequencing (NGS) technologies. A set of 411 polymorphic markers totaling 451 nuclear SNPs (375 SNPs and 36 microhaplotype markers) was selected for the custom probe capture panel. The SNP markers were selected for a broad range of forensic applications including human individual identification, kinship, and lineage analysis as well as for mixture analysis. Performance of the custom SNP probe capture NGS assay was characterized by analyzing read depth and heterozygote allele balance across 15 samples at 25 ng input DNA. Performance thresholds were established based on read depth ¡Ý500X and heterozygote allele balance within ¡À10 percent deviation from 50:50, which was observed for 426 out of 451 SNPs. These 426 SNPs were analyzed in size selected samples (at ¡Ü75 bp, ¡Ü100 bp, ¡Ü150 bp, ¡Ü200 bp, and ¡Ü250 bp) as well as mock degraded samples fragmented to an average of 150 bp. Samples selected for ¡Ü75 bp exhibited 99-100 percent reportable SNPs across varied DNA amounts and as low as 0.5 ng. Mock degraded samples at 1 ng and 10 ng exhibited >90 percent reportable SNPs. Finally, two-person male-male mixtures were tested at 10 ng in contributor varying ratios. Overall, 85-100 percent of alleles unique to the minor contributor were observed at all mixture ratios. Results from these studies using the SNP probe capture NGS system demonstrates proof of concept for application to forensically relevant degraded and mixed DNA samples. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: May 1, 2018