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Degradation of human mRNA transcripts over time as an indicator of the time since deposition (TsD) in biological crime scene traces


Salzmann, Andrea Patrizia; Russo, Giancarlo; Kreutzer, Susanne; Haas, Cordula (2021). Degradation of human mRNA transcripts over time as an indicator of the time since deposition (TsD) in biological crime scene traces. Forensic Science International. Genetics, 53:102524.

Abstract

Knowledge about the age of a stain, also termed as time since deposition (TsD), would provide law-enforcing authorities with valuable information for the prosecution of criminal offenses. Yet, there is no reliable method for the inference / assessment of TsD available. The aim of this study was to gain further insight into the RNA degradation pattern of forensically relevant body fluids and to find candidate markers for TsD estimation. Blood, menstrual blood, saliva, semen and vaginal secretion samples were exposed to indoor (dark, room temperature) and outdoor (exposed to sun, wind, etc. but protected from rain) conditions for up to 1.5 years. Based on expression and degradation analyses, we were able to identify body fluid specific signatures and RNA degradation patterns. The indoor samples showed a marked drop in RNA integrity after 6 months, while the outdoor samples were difficult to interpret and therefore excluded for some of the analyses. Up to 4 weeks, indoor samples showed more stable and less degrading transcripts than outdoor samples. Stable transcripts tended to be significantly shorter than degrading ones or transcripts, which are neither degrading nor stable. We reinforced the body fluid specific and the housekeeping gene nature of previously reported markers. With an unbiased approach, we selected stable and degrading genes for each body fluid in the short term and assessed their integrity during extended storage. We identified several stable and degrading gene transcripts, which could be tested in a targeted assay to assess the TsD interval e.g. by analyzing the ratio of degrading vs stable transcripts. In conclusion, we were able to detect RNA degradation patterns in samples being aged up to 1.5 years and identified several candidate markers, which could be evaluated for TsD estimation.

Abstract

Knowledge about the age of a stain, also termed as time since deposition (TsD), would provide law-enforcing authorities with valuable information for the prosecution of criminal offenses. Yet, there is no reliable method for the inference / assessment of TsD available. The aim of this study was to gain further insight into the RNA degradation pattern of forensically relevant body fluids and to find candidate markers for TsD estimation. Blood, menstrual blood, saliva, semen and vaginal secretion samples were exposed to indoor (dark, room temperature) and outdoor (exposed to sun, wind, etc. but protected from rain) conditions for up to 1.5 years. Based on expression and degradation analyses, we were able to identify body fluid specific signatures and RNA degradation patterns. The indoor samples showed a marked drop in RNA integrity after 6 months, while the outdoor samples were difficult to interpret and therefore excluded for some of the analyses. Up to 4 weeks, indoor samples showed more stable and less degrading transcripts than outdoor samples. Stable transcripts tended to be significantly shorter than degrading ones or transcripts, which are neither degrading nor stable. We reinforced the body fluid specific and the housekeeping gene nature of previously reported markers. With an unbiased approach, we selected stable and degrading genes for each body fluid in the short term and assessed their integrity during extended storage. We identified several stable and degrading gene transcripts, which could be tested in a targeted assay to assess the TsD interval e.g. by analyzing the ratio of degrading vs stable transcripts. In conclusion, we were able to detect RNA degradation patterns in samples being aged up to 1.5 years and identified several candidate markers, which could be evaluated for TsD estimation.

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Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Functional Genomics Center Zurich
04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Legal Medicine
Dewey Decimal Classification:340 Law
610 Medicine & health
510 Mathematics
Scopus Subject Areas:Health Sciences > Pathology and Forensic Medicine
Life Sciences > Genetics
Uncontrolled Keywords:Pathology and Forensic Medicine, Genetics
Language:English
Date:1 July 2021
Deposited On:21 Jul 2021 07:01
Last Modified:25 Feb 2024 02:41
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:1872-4973
OA Status:Hybrid
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fsigen.2021.102524
PubMed ID:34015741
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)