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Post mortem DNA degradation of human tissue experimentally mummified in salt.

Shved N, Haas C, Papageorgopoulou C, Akguel G, Paulsen K, Bouwman A, Warinner C, Rühli F - PLoS ONE (2014)

Bottom Line: Mummified human tissues are of great interest in forensics and biomolecular archaeology.Skin and skeletal muscle were sampled at multiple time points over a period of 322 days and subjected to genetic analysis.The study outcome reveals a very good level of DNA preservation in salt mummified tissues over the course of the experiment, with an overall slower rate of DNA fragmentation in skin compared to muscle.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Institute of Evolutionary Medicine, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.

ABSTRACT
Mummified human tissues are of great interest in forensics and biomolecular archaeology. The aim of this study was to analyse post mortem DNA alterations in soft tissues in order to improve our knowledge of the patterns of DNA degradation that occur during salt mummification. In this study, the lower limb of a female human donor was amputated within 24 h post mortem and mummified using a process designed to simulate the salt dehydration phase of natural or artificial mummification. Skin and skeletal muscle were sampled at multiple time points over a period of 322 days and subjected to genetic analysis. Patterns of genomic fragmentation, miscoding lesions, and overall DNA degradation in both nuclear and mitochondrial DNA was assessed by different methods: gel electrophoresis, multiplex comparative autosomal STR length amplification, cloning and sequence analysis, and PCR amplification of different fragment sizes using a damage sensitive recombinant polymerase. The study outcome reveals a very good level of DNA preservation in salt mummified tissues over the course of the experiment, with an overall slower rate of DNA fragmentation in skin compared to muscle.

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Hematoxylin-Eosin (a, b) stained section of muscle tissue from the lower limb at Day 3 (a) and Day 208 (b).The muscle fibres (+) after 208 days are shrunken but morphologically unchanged. The nuclei (circled in blue) of the muscle cells are clearly stained until the end of the experiment. The epimysium (§) shows minimal changes.
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pone-0110753-g001: Hematoxylin-Eosin (a, b) stained section of muscle tissue from the lower limb at Day 3 (a) and Day 208 (b).The muscle fibres (+) after 208 days are shrunken but morphologically unchanged. The nuclei (circled in blue) of the muscle cells are clearly stained until the end of the experiment. The epimysium (§) shows minimal changes.

Mentions: The histological examination reveals generally good soft tissue preservation. The muscle fibres were shrunken, but otherwise morphologically unchanged. The epimysium, connective tissue that surrounds the muscle fibres, showed minimal alteration. The nuclei of the muscle cells stained clearly for the entire duration of the experiment. The skin was similarly well preserved, although structural changes were more pronounced compared to muscle. By day 208, the five layers of the epidermis were no longer easily distinguishable: the dermis was shrunken, and structures such as the vascular networks of the papillary dermis and the free sensory nerve endings, were not discernible (Figure 1) [38].


Post mortem DNA degradation of human tissue experimentally mummified in salt.

Shved N, Haas C, Papageorgopoulou C, Akguel G, Paulsen K, Bouwman A, Warinner C, Rühli F - PLoS ONE (2014)

Hematoxylin-Eosin (a, b) stained section of muscle tissue from the lower limb at Day 3 (a) and Day 208 (b).The muscle fibres (+) after 208 days are shrunken but morphologically unchanged. The nuclei (circled in blue) of the muscle cells are clearly stained until the end of the experiment. The epimysium (§) shows minimal changes.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4206501&req=5

pone-0110753-g001: Hematoxylin-Eosin (a, b) stained section of muscle tissue from the lower limb at Day 3 (a) and Day 208 (b).The muscle fibres (+) after 208 days are shrunken but morphologically unchanged. The nuclei (circled in blue) of the muscle cells are clearly stained until the end of the experiment. The epimysium (§) shows minimal changes.
Mentions: The histological examination reveals generally good soft tissue preservation. The muscle fibres were shrunken, but otherwise morphologically unchanged. The epimysium, connective tissue that surrounds the muscle fibres, showed minimal alteration. The nuclei of the muscle cells stained clearly for the entire duration of the experiment. The skin was similarly well preserved, although structural changes were more pronounced compared to muscle. By day 208, the five layers of the epidermis were no longer easily distinguishable: the dermis was shrunken, and structures such as the vascular networks of the papillary dermis and the free sensory nerve endings, were not discernible (Figure 1) [38].

Bottom Line: Mummified human tissues are of great interest in forensics and biomolecular archaeology.Skin and skeletal muscle were sampled at multiple time points over a period of 322 days and subjected to genetic analysis.The study outcome reveals a very good level of DNA preservation in salt mummified tissues over the course of the experiment, with an overall slower rate of DNA fragmentation in skin compared to muscle.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Institute of Evolutionary Medicine, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.

ABSTRACT
Mummified human tissues are of great interest in forensics and biomolecular archaeology. The aim of this study was to analyse post mortem DNA alterations in soft tissues in order to improve our knowledge of the patterns of DNA degradation that occur during salt mummification. In this study, the lower limb of a female human donor was amputated within 24 h post mortem and mummified using a process designed to simulate the salt dehydration phase of natural or artificial mummification. Skin and skeletal muscle were sampled at multiple time points over a period of 322 days and subjected to genetic analysis. Patterns of genomic fragmentation, miscoding lesions, and overall DNA degradation in both nuclear and mitochondrial DNA was assessed by different methods: gel electrophoresis, multiplex comparative autosomal STR length amplification, cloning and sequence analysis, and PCR amplification of different fragment sizes using a damage sensitive recombinant polymerase. The study outcome reveals a very good level of DNA preservation in salt mummified tissues over the course of the experiment, with an overall slower rate of DNA fragmentation in skin compared to muscle.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus