Rapid and inexpensive body fluid identification by RNA profiling-based multiplex High Resolution Melt (HRM) analysis

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Abstract

Positive identification of the nature of biological material present on evidentiary items can be crucial for understanding the circumstances surrounding a crime. However, traditional protein-based methods do not permit the identification of all body fluids and tissues, and thus molecular based strategies for the conclusive identification of all forensically relevant biological fluids and tissues need to be developed. Messenger RNA (mRNA) profiling is an example of such a molecular-based approach. Current mRNA body fluid identification assays involve capillary electrophoresis (CE) or quantitative RT-PCR (qRT-PCR) platforms, each with its own limitations. Both platforms require the use of expensive fluorescently labeled primers or probes. CE-based assays require separate amplification and detection steps thus increasing the analysis time. For qRT-PCR assays, only 3-4 markers can be included in a single reaction since each requires a different fluorescent dye. To simplify mRNA profiling assays, and reduce the time and cost of analysis, we have developed single- and multiplex body fluid High Resolution Melt (HRM) assays for the identification of common forensically relevant biological fluids and tissues. The incorporated biomarkers include IL19 (vaginal secretions), IL1F7 (skin), ALAS2 (blood), MMP10 (menstrual blood), HTN3 (saliva) and TGM4 (semen). The HRM assays require only unlabeled PCR primers and a single saturating intercalating fluorescent dye (Eva Green). Each body-fluid-specific marker can easily be identified by the presence of a distinct melt peak. Usually, HRM assays are used to detect variants or isoforms for a single gene target. However, we have uniquely developed duplex and triplex HRM assays to permit the simultaneous detection of multiple targets per reaction. Here we describe the development and initial performance evaluation of the developed HRM assays. The results demonstrate the potential use of HRM assays for rapid, and relatively inexpensive, screening of biological evidence.

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Ballantyne, J., & Hanson, E. K. (2014). Rapid and inexpensive body fluid identification by RNA profiling-based multiplex High Resolution Melt (HRM) analysis. F1000Research, 2. https://doi.org/10.12688/f1000research.2-281.v2

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