Comparison of STR profiling from low template DNA extracts with and without the consensus profiling method
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Background: The consensus profiling method was introduced to overcome the exaggerated stochastic effects associated with low copy number DNA typing. However, little empirical evidence has been provided which shows that a consensus profile, derived from dividing a sample into separate aliquots and including only alleles seen at least twice, gives the most informative profile, compared to a profile obtained by amplifying the entire low template DNA extract in one reaction. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate the quality of consensus profiles compared to profiles obtained using the whole low template extract for amplification.
Methods: A total of 100 pg and 25 pg DNA samples were amplified with the PowerPlex® ESI 16 Kits using 30 or 34 PCR cycles. A total of 100 pg and 25 pg DNA samples were then divided into three aliquots for a 34-cycle PCR and a consensus profile derived that included alleles that appeared in at least two of the replicates. Profiles from the non-split samples were compared to the consensus profiles focusing on peak heights, allele drop out, locus drop out and allele drop in.
Results: Performing DNA profiling on non-split extracts produced profiles with a higher percentage of correct loci compared to the consensus profiling technique. Consensus profiling did eliminate any spurious alleles from the final profile. However, there was a notable increase in allele and locus drop out when a LTDNA sample was divided prior to amplification.
Conclusions: The loss of information that occurs when a sample is split for amplification indicates that consensus profiling may not be producing the most informative DNA profile for samples where the template amount is limited.
This document has been peer reviewed.