Modification of a novel temperature controlled differential extraction procedure for better application in forensic casework
Ziegler, Andrew David
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Despite the many advancements to forensic DNA analysis adopted by crime laboratories across the country, the most common method for the differential extraction of sexual assault samples has remained relatively unchanged since forensic deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) typing was discovered in 1985. As the quantity and quality of extracted DNA has significant implications on the success of subsequent analysis methods, the development and optimization of effective extraction procedures is vital to progressing the field of forensic DNA analysis. The graduate students and faculty at the Boston University School of Medicine have been developing a differential extraction process that utilizes a multi-enzymatic approach to preferentially lyse and wash the cell types within temperature controlled environments. The overall procedure is less labor-intensive and time-consuming than the conventional method. Through the extraction process, the inhibitory nature of each enzyme on the amplification process is avoided, circumventing the need for an additional purification step. A single centrifugation step is required in order to pellet the sperm while the cumbersome wash steps are replaced with selective digestion in order to remove the residual epithelial cell DNA from the sperm fraction. The three enzyme used (EA1, Benzonase®, and Acrosolv) operate optimally at distinct temperatures which allows for controlled and sequential activation to achieve desired lysis and digestion outcomes. The enzymatic reactions are conducted within a DNA extraction lab thermal cycler to obtain rapid and accurate temperature changes. This novel temperature controlled differential extraction protocol has been developed and optimized for extraction of primarily liquid mixed samples in 0.2 milliliter (mL) tubes. The epithelial cell lysis and sperm cell lysis stages of the extraction contained a final reaction volume of 100 microliters (µL). Slight modifications to this 100 direct-lysis differential extraction method resulted in a similarly efficient method with a high male DNA yield (74-100%) and minimal female carryover among varying ratios of epithelial cells to sperm cells. This sensitive technique provided nearly complete profiles (14/16 loci) of the male contributor in mixed samples containing ~15,200 female epithelial cells and ~500 sperm, with complete profiles observed in mixed samples containing ~1000 sperm. This modified extraction protocol better accommodates sample sizes that may be encountered in forensic casework testing while providing a more concentrated sperm fraction, possibly eliminating the need for an additional concentration step in some dilute samples. The ease of implementation and the rapid processing time of 2-3 hours make it a great candidate for use in forensic DNA laboratories and may help alleviate backlogs of sexual assault kit. However, further work is needed to alter the composition of the sperm lysis buffer to make it compatible with currently used amplification kits. Until such time, caution must be taken in the kit selection used for amplification of extracts produced with this method. This study also demonstrated a sensitivity of the GlobalFiler® PCR Amplification Kit to inhibition by the buffers used in this extraction protocol, particularly the Orange+ Buffer. This inhibition has dramatic effects on the profile quality of the amplified sperm fractions, with extensive allelic drop-out observed even when the Orange+ Buffer concentration was scaled from 1.0X to 0.2X. Amplification using the AmpFℓSTR® Identifiler® Plus PCR Amplification Kit showed marginal recovery in the profile quality. Other expanded-loci STR amplification kits may also demonstrate resistance to this inhibition.