Volume 33, Issue 1 (January 1988)
The Autodegradation of Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) in Human Rib Bone and Its Relationship to the Time Interval Since Death
This research explored the feasibility of using the degradation rate of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) in human rib bone to determine the time interval since death. Postmortem human rib samples were surface sterilized and incubated under sterile conditions in either high or low humidity conditions at room temperature for a period of weeks. At selected times, portions of the bone were cut away, and the DNA from these samples was extracted and subjected to strand separating gel electrophoresis. The DNAs in the gels were transferred to a nylon membrane, preserving their relative positions as in the gel, and probed with radioactive total genomic human DNA. Autoradiograms produced were scanned and digitized. When the samples were incubated under identical conditions, the degradation rate of DNA in samples from different individuals appeared very similar. The DNA degradation rate may vary with temperature and humidity more than it varies between individuals.