Volume 43, Issue 3 (May 1998)
Effect of Reference Database on Frequency Estimates of Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)-Based DNA Profiles
A variety of general, regional, ancestral and ethnic databases is available for the polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based loci LDLR, GYPA, HBGG, D7S8, Gc, DQA1, and D1S80. Generally, we observed greater differences in frequency estimations of DNA profiles between racial groups than between ethnic or geographic subgroups. Analysis revealed few forensically significant differences within ethnic subgroups, particularly within general United States groups, and multi-locus frequency estimates typically differ by less than a factor of ten. Using a database different from the one to which a target profile belongs tends to overestimate rarity. Implementation of the general correction of homozygote frequencies for a population substructure, advised by the 1996 National Research Council report, The Evaluation of Forensic DNA Evidence, has a minimal effect on profile frequencies. Even when it is known that both the suspect and all possible perpetrators must belong to the same isolated population, the special correction for inbreeding, which was proposed by the 1996 National Research Council report for this special case, has a relatively modest effect, typically a factor of two or less for 1% inbreeding. The effect becomes more substantial (exceeding a factor of ten) for inbreeding of 3% or more in multi-locus profiles rarer than about one in a million.