Rapid Communication| Volume 36, P205-212, September 2018

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Simplification of complex DNA profiles using front end cell separation and probabilistic modeling


      • A series of dried blood mixtures containing as many as five individuals were analyzed.
      • Contributor cell populations were labeled with antibody probes and separated into two fractions.
      • DNA profiles from each fraction could be interpreted manually or using probabilistic modeling.
      • This approach can increase probative value of mixture evidence by associating many of the contributors to the sample.


      Forensic samples comprised of cell populations from multiple contributors often yield DNA profiles that can be extremely challenging to interpret. This frequently results in decreased statistical strength of an individual’s association to the mixture and the loss of probative data. The purpose of this study was to test a front-end cell separation workflow on complex mixtures containing as many as five contributors. Our approach involved selectively labelling certain cell populations in dried whole blood mixture samples with fluorescently labeled antibody probe targeting the HLA-A*02 allele, separating the mixture using Fluorescence Activated Cell Sorting (FACS) into two fractions that are enriched in A*02 positive and A*02 negative cells, and then generating DNA profiles for each fraction. We then tested whether antibody labelling and cell sorting effectively reduced the complexity of the original cell mixture by analyzing STR profiles quantitatively using the probabilistic modeling software, TrueAllele® Casework. Results showed that antibody labelling and FACS separation of target populations yielded simplified STR profiles that could be more easily interpreted using conventional procedures. Additionally, TrueAllele® analysis of STR profiles from sorted cell fractions increased statistical strength for the association of most of the original contributors interpreted from the original mixtures.


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