Volume 31, Issue 3 (July 1986)
Applications of Isoelectric Focusing in Forensic Serology
The typing of certain polymorphic proteins present in human body fluids is an important aspect of the analysis of serological evidence. This is particularly true when dealing with evidence related to violent criminal activity such as homocide, assault, or rape. Until recently, the routine analysis of the genetic polymorphisms of interest relied upon conventional electrophoretic techniques such as horizontal starch or agarose slab gel or both, cellulose acetate, and vertical polyacrylamide gradient gel methods. These techniques adequately separate a limited number of common variants. In some cases, these methods are still those of choice. However, as a result of the nature of the conventional approach, problems with time required for analysis, resolution, diffusion of bands, sensitivity of protein detection, and cost are often encountered. Isoelectric focusing (IEF) offers an effective alternative to conventional electrophoresis for genetic marker typing. This method exploits the isoelectric point of allelic products rather than charge-to-mass ratio in a particular pH environment. The advantages of employing IEF include: reduction of time of analysis, increased resolution of protein bands, the possibility of subtyping existing phenotypes, increased sensitivity of detection, the counteraction of diffusion effects, and reduced cost per sample.