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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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Related in: MedlinePlus

Maximum target size amplification of (a, c) mitochondrial (mt) and (b, d) nuclear (nu) DNA from both (a, b) skin and (c, d) muscle tissue extracts from day 0 to day 322.Skin (black line), Muscle (gray line), mtDNA (solid line), nuDNA (dashed line).
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pone-0110753-g004: Maximum target size amplification of (a, c) mitochondrial (mt) and (b, d) nuclear (nu) DNA from both (a, b) skin and (c, d) muscle tissue extracts from day 0 to day 322.Skin (black line), Muscle (gray line), mtDNA (solid line), nuDNA (dashed line).

Mentions: Long (8000 bp) mitochondrial and nuclear targets could be readily amplified from the day 0 extracts (Figure 4). Over time, the maximum amplifiable target length generally decreased, with earlier declines in muscle than in skin. Longer targets also failed to amplify earlier in nuclear DNA than in mitochondrial DNA, as is expected, since the copy number of mitochondrial genomes is on the order of thousands per cultured mammalian cell [45]. However, as can been seen in Figure 3, damage-free 4000 bp nuclear targets and 8000 bp mitochondrial targets were readily amplifiable from the mummified skin tissues, and 2000 bp nuclear targets and 4000 bp mitochondrial targets were amplifiable from the muscle samples almost one year post-mortem. To confirm that these results are not the result of contamination, the amplicons were sequenced and aligned to the DNA sequence of the leg at day 0. The specimens exhibited identical sequence polymorphisms in the mitochondrial HVRI and autosomal STR marker D18S51, confirming that the amplifications are endogenous and authentic.


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)

Maximum target size amplification of (a, c) mitochondrial (mt) and (b, d) nuclear (nu) DNA from both (a, b) skin and (c, d) muscle tissue extracts from day 0 to day 322.Skin (black line), Muscle (gray line), mtDNA (solid line), nuDNA (dashed line).
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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

pone-0110753-g004: Maximum target size amplification of (a, c) mitochondrial (mt) and (b, d) nuclear (nu) DNA from both (a, b) skin and (c, d) muscle tissue extracts from day 0 to day 322.Skin (black line), Muscle (gray line), mtDNA (solid line), nuDNA (dashed line).
Mentions: Long (8000 bp) mitochondrial and nuclear targets could be readily amplified from the day 0 extracts (Figure 4). Over time, the maximum amplifiable target length generally decreased, with earlier declines in muscle than in skin. Longer targets also failed to amplify earlier in nuclear DNA than in mitochondrial DNA, as is expected, since the copy number of mitochondrial genomes is on the order of thousands per cultured mammalian cell [45]. However, as can been seen in Figure 3, damage-free 4000 bp nuclear targets and 8000 bp mitochondrial targets were readily amplifiable from the mummified skin tissues, and 2000 bp nuclear targets and 4000 bp mitochondrial targets were amplifiable from the muscle samples almost one year post-mortem. To confirm that these results are not the result of contamination, the amplicons were sequenced and aligned to the DNA sequence of the leg at day 0. The specimens exhibited identical sequence polymorphisms in the mitochondrial HVRI and autosomal STR marker D18S51, confirming that the amplifications are endogenous and authentic.

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