Volume 44, Issue 5 (September 1999)
A Validation Study for the Extraction and Analysis of DNA from Human Nail Material and Its Application to Forensic Casework
A validation study was conducted to demonstrate that deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) could be successfully extracted from human nail material and analyzed using short tandem repeat (STR) profiling and/or mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequencing. This study involved the development of a DNA extraction protocol that includes a cleaning procedure designed to remove external contaminants (e.g., biological, chemical). This protocol was used to test human nail material that had been soaked in whole blood from a second donor and coated with gold-palladium to simulate scanning electron microscopic analysis. The results showed no indication of a mixture and were consistent with that of the nail donor. Fresh human nail material usually yielded both STR profiles and mtDNA sequence information; however, aged human nail material (∼eight years old) yielded only mtDNA sequence information. Upon completion of the validation study, the extraction protocol was used for the analysis of a torn fingernail fragment recovered from the scene of a violent homicide in 1983. A partial STR profile and mtDNA sequence information indicated that the fingernail fragment was excluded as originating from the suspect and was, in fact, consistent with originating from one of the victims.