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Corneocyte lysis and fragmented DNA considerations for the cellular component of forensic touch DNA

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Julia Burrill, Elli Rammenou, Fatima Alawar, Barbara Daniel, Nunzianda Frascione

Original languageEnglish
Article number102428
JournalForensic Science International: Genetics
PublishedMar 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: This work was supported by the Fulbright-King's College London Partnership Award. Funding Information: This work was supported by the Fulbright-King’s College London Partnership Award . Publisher Copyright: © 2020 Elsevier B.V. Copyright: Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

King's Authors


DNA deposited by individuals’ hands is a routine part of forensic analysis, yet little is understood about the precise cellular contents left by handling. “Dead” skin cells known as corneocytes make up the majority of the cellular material left in touch deposits by people's hands but are known to lack nuclei, making their DNA content ambiguous. Here we measure DNA released from anucleate corneocytes following various lysis methods to determine how much DNA may be present in these cells and how best to recover it from inside the cornified envelope. We demonstrate that enhanced lysis methods using a reducing agent and longer incubation may be valuable for hand deposit samples. Corneocyte DNA can be characterized as highly degraded based on the quantification, STR profiling and fluorescence microscopy of the cells from freshly washed hands. Purification to target shorter DNA fragments is demonstrated. DNA from the washed corneocyte cells is shown to constitute the majority of recoverable DNA with these methods. We consider the use of new methods adapted to cornified cells and fragmented DNA for future research into this sample type

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