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DNA Profiling

Updated on March 7, 2015

DNA profile is a collection of specific parts of DNA that are highly individual (except for the DNA of an identical twins). Those specific areas of DNA called variable number tandem repeats (VNTR). Scientists developed methods of analysis that uncover the unique nucleotide sequence of VNTRs to use for the personal identification.

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Controversy in DNA Profiling

DNA technologies and particularly the DNA profiling have a controversial public resonance. DNA profiling’s pros and cons are actively discussed in the scientific circles and mass media. Some people concerned by the ease of access to their private information because the sample of spit or hair is enough to create a DNA profile. Others point out that one out of hundred DNA profiles contains mistakes, despite the advancement in the technology. Among the disadvantages of DNA profiling is the sensitivity to the smallest contamination of the sample that may lead to the false results.

However, DNA profile analysis actively serves the forensic science and assists in the parentage and ancestry testing. Advantages of this method include non-invasive sample collection and the possibility to create databases for the variety of applications.

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How does DNA profiling work?

It starts with the collection of a DNA sample from almost any biological tissue or fluid. Then, DNA is extracted, purified and analyzed using one of the following methods.

RFLP (restriction fragment length polymorphism) analysis employs gel electrophoresis to separate marked fragments of DNA and further compare and identify their nucleotide sequence. It is an extremely time-consuming method that requires a large amount of high-quality DNA and often is not free from a human error.

PCR (polymerase chain reaction) analysis is faster, but, unfortunately, is more sensitive to the contamination and shows false results in case of a mixed sample.

Latest methods of STR analysis and AmpFLP combine the advantages of previous methods and minimize the downsides. Particular short repeated sequences separated by the gel electrophoresis and amplified using PCR. Sequencing techniques help to identify the nucleotide composition.

Mitochondrial DNA analysis is useful for the highly decayed samples.

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In criminal and forensic investigations, the DNA profile of the suspect compared to the DNA profile of the sample obtained at the crime scene.

Archaeological and paleontological research often use evidence based on DNA profile.

Medical practitioners benefit from DNA profiling by using it for diagnostics and treatment optimization.

This technique widely used for the parental identification and ancestry search.


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