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DNA: Postmortem Stability in Various Human Organ Tissues


Bär, W; Kratzer, A; Mächler, Marco; Schmid, Werner (1988). DNA: Postmortem Stability in Various Human Organ Tissues. In: Mayr, Wolfgang R. Haemonetics. Berlin-Heidelberg: Springer, 392-395.

Abstract

The detection of DNA polymorphisms considerably expanded the means of discrimination of individuals based on small tissue samples. So-called ”DNA-fingerprints“, a banding pattern generated by hypervariable minisatellites are unique for every individual, except for monozygotic twins (Jeffreys et al., 1985a, 1985b). The bands are inherited according to the law of Mendel, hence familial relationship is reconstructible by comparing fingerprints of the parents or close relatives with the one of the unknown (Jeffreys, 1986). Questions of identity in forensic cases often concern remains of humans who have been dead for a shorter or longer time. Since high-molecular-weight DNA is a prerequisite to obtain reliable RFLP-patterns, it is important to investigate the postmortem stability of DNA under various conditions. Reports of Pääbo in 1985 on isolation of DNA from mummies of 2000 years of age amplified the enthusiasm to “raise (genetically) the dead and buried” as Jeffreys expressed it 1984. However, only short length DNA-fragments or none at all were recoverable so far (Huges et al., 1986). Postmortem decay of human bodies is an extremely complex and not yet fully understood process which consists of an aerobic and bacterial decomposition of organic material. It starts with autolysis followed by putrefaction. Autolysis is a nonbacterial autodigestion of tissue by enzymes liberated from the lysosomes whereas putrefaction is an anaerobic bacterial decomposition of proteins which is often accompanied by production of gas. However, the two processes usually cannot be clearly separated and both show a maximum of activity at temperatures between 34–40° Centigrade. In autolysis, loss of enzyme regulation and lactic acidosis enhance the activity of some enzymes, e.g of the hydrolases, whereas other’s activity is reduced.

Abstract

The detection of DNA polymorphisms considerably expanded the means of discrimination of individuals based on small tissue samples. So-called ”DNA-fingerprints“, a banding pattern generated by hypervariable minisatellites are unique for every individual, except for monozygotic twins (Jeffreys et al., 1985a, 1985b). The bands are inherited according to the law of Mendel, hence familial relationship is reconstructible by comparing fingerprints of the parents or close relatives with the one of the unknown (Jeffreys, 1986). Questions of identity in forensic cases often concern remains of humans who have been dead for a shorter or longer time. Since high-molecular-weight DNA is a prerequisite to obtain reliable RFLP-patterns, it is important to investigate the postmortem stability of DNA under various conditions. Reports of Pääbo in 1985 on isolation of DNA from mummies of 2000 years of age amplified the enthusiasm to “raise (genetically) the dead and buried” as Jeffreys expressed it 1984. However, only short length DNA-fragments or none at all were recoverable so far (Huges et al., 1986). Postmortem decay of human bodies is an extremely complex and not yet fully understood process which consists of an aerobic and bacterial decomposition of organic material. It starts with autolysis followed by putrefaction. Autolysis is a nonbacterial autodigestion of tissue by enzymes liberated from the lysosomes whereas putrefaction is an anaerobic bacterial decomposition of proteins which is often accompanied by production of gas. However, the two processes usually cannot be clearly separated and both show a maximum of activity at temperatures between 34–40° Centigrade. In autolysis, loss of enzyme regulation and lactic acidosis enhance the activity of some enzymes, e.g of the hydrolases, whereas other’s activity is reduced.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Book Section, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Medical Genetics
04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Legal Medicine
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
610 Medicine & health
Uncontrolled Keywords:Lactic Acidosis, Brain Cortex, Psoas Muscle, Splenic Tissue, Small Tissue Sample
Language:English
Date:1 January 1988
Deposited On:27 Jan 2023 16:03
Last Modified:29 Jan 2023 09:24
Publisher:Springer
Number:2
ISBN:9783540187653
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-73330-7_76
Other Identification Number:Corpus ID: 80960598