Publications by authors named "Sylvain Amory"

9 Publications

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An economical and efficient method for postmortem DNA sampling in mass fatalities.

Forensic Sci Int Genet 2018 09 10;36:167-175. Epub 2018 Jul 10.

International Commission on Missing Persons Headquarters, Koninginnegracht 12 2514 AA Den Haag, The Netherlands.

In mass fatality events, the need to identify large numbers of deceased persons using DNA can be a significant drain on already overburdened forensic practitioners, both in the field setting and the laboratory. The laboratory may be required to extract DNA from a variety of postmortem sample types, family or direct reference samples related to the missing, and perform matching of these results in a short period of time. While most forensic institutions are well equipped to handle both family and direct reference samples, postmortem samples such as bone or heterogeneous tissue samples can be difficult for labs to analyze. We have devised an easily deployable, efficient, and inexpensive method for collecting postmortem DNA samples on commercially available DNA preservation cards ("FTA" cards). FTA cards are already widely used in forensic labs and are convenient for shipping due to their small volume and stability at room temperature. We evaluated the suitability of a protocol involving swabbing of incisions made on cadavers and sample deposition onto FTA cards over various postmortem intervals and under different environmental conditions. Each trial took place during a different point in the calendar year to evaluate the effects of seasonal weather patterns and temperature on decomposition, DNA yield, and rates of DNA degradation. To further account for the effects of seasonality (temperature and humidity), the progression of body decomposition was recorded following the Total Body Score (TBS) method [1]. DNA degradation was assessed either through STR amplification of 1.2 mm FTA punches or DNA extraction from 3.0 mm punches followed by real-time PCR quantification and STR amplification and genotyping. No consistent relationship was observed between postmortem interval and DNA degradation. Instead, the TBS score, which captures the stage of body decomposition, was shown to correlate well with DNA quantity. A TBS of 15 and below consistently yielded strong partial or full profiles (20 STR loci and Amelogenin using the PowerPlex 21 System) from all individuals from either 1.2 mm or 3.0 mm punches. Transfer of sample swabs to FTA cards is shown to be a simple and effective method for both field and laboratory operations over a range of conditions that can be evaluated by field forensic practitioners based on a body decomposition score. The approach could be beneficially integrated into mass fatality response plans.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.fsigen.2018.07.009DOI Listing
September 2018

DNA extraction from aged skeletal samples for STR typing by capillary electrophoresis.

Methods Mol Biol 2012 ;830:185-98

International Commission on Missing Persons, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

STR analysis of DNA extracted from skeletal samples can play an important role in the identification of missing persons. Here we present a method for the extraction of DNA from skeletal samples involving complete demineralization and digestion of the sample, followed by purification by silica binding. This method, together with the multiplex STR typing approach also presented, has proven highly successful in the recovery of DNA profiles from degraded, aged skeletal remains from a wide range of environmental contexts. The methodological steps presented include bone decontamination and grinding, DNA extraction, repurification in the case of highly inhibited samples, quantification, STR multiplex amplification, and profile reporting guidelines. However, the conditions applied for amplification and the criteria for allele calling and profile submission must be based on the results of each laboratory's internal validation experiments involving the type of samples relevant to the project at hand. The methods presented here have permitted large-scale DNA-based identification of persons missing from mass disasters and armed conflict.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-1-61779-461-2_13DOI Listing
March 2012

Automatable full demineralization DNA extraction procedure from degraded skeletal remains.

Forensic Sci Int Genet 2012 May 31;6(3):398-406. Epub 2011 Aug 31.

International Commission on Missing Persons, Alipasina 45a, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

During the 7 year period from 2002 to 2009 a high volume, silica-binding DNA extraction protocol for bone, based on modified QIAGEN's Blood Maxi Kit protocol was highly successful permitting the DNA matching of >14,500 missing persons from former Yugoslavia. This method, however, requires large amount of bone material and large volumes of reagents. The logical evolution was to develop a more efficient extraction protocol for bone samples that uses significantly less starting material while increasing the success in obtaining DNA results from smaller, more challenging samples. In this study we compared the performance of ICMP's original protocol against an automatable full demineralization approach. In order to provide reliable results and to simulate a wide variety of cases, we analyzed 40 bone samples in a comparative study based on DNA concentrations and quality of resulting STR profiles. The new protocol results in the dissolution of the entire bone powder sample, thus eliminating the possibility that DNA is left behind, locked in remaining solid bone matrix. For the majority of samples tested, the DNA concentrations obtained from half a gram of fully digested bone material were equivalent to or greater than the ones obtained from 2g of partially demineralized bone powder. Furthermore, the full demineralization process significantly increases the proportion of full profiles reflecting the correlation with better DNA quality. This method has been adapted for the QIAcube robotic platform. The performance of this automated full demineralization protocol is similar to the manual version and increases overall lab throughput. It also simplifies the process by eliminating quality control procedures that are advisable in manual procedures, and overall reduces the chance of human error. Finally we described a simple and efficient post-extraction clean-up method that can be applied to DNA extracts obtained from different protocols. This protocol has also been adjusted for the QIAcube platform.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.fsigen.2011.08.004DOI Listing
May 2012

The mtDNA composition of Uzbekistan: a microcosm of Central Asian patterns.

Int J Legal Med 2010 May 6;124(3):195-204. Epub 2010 Feb 6.

Research Department, Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL), 1413 Research Blvd, Rockville, MD, 20850, USA.

In order to better characterize and understand the mtDNA population genetics of Central Asia, the mtDNA control regions of over 1,500 individuals from Uzbekistan have been sequenced. Although all samples were obtained from individuals residing in Uzbekistan, individuals with direct ancestry from neighboring Central Asian countries are included. Individuals of Uzbek ancestry represent five distinct geographic regions of Uzbekistan: Fergana, Karakalpakstan, Khorezm, Qashkadarya, and Tashkent. Individuals with direct ancestry in nearby countries originate from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan. Our data reinforce the evidence of distinct clinal patterns that have been described among Central Asian populations with classical, mtDNA, and Y-chromosomal markers. Our data also reveal hallmarks of recent demographic events. Despite their current close geographic proximity, the populations with ancestry in neighboring countries show little sign of admixture and retain the primary mtDNA patterns of their source populations. The genetic distances and haplogroup distributions among the ethnic populations are more indicative of a broad east-west cline among their source populations than of their relatively small geographic distances from one another in Uzbekistan. Given the significant mtDNA heterogeneity detected, our results emphasize the need for heightened caution in the forensic interpretation of mtDNA data in regions as historically rich and genetically diverse as Central Asia.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00414-009-0406-zDOI Listing
May 2010

Human evolution in Siberia: from frozen bodies to ancient DNA.

BMC Evol Biol 2010 Jan 25;10:25. Epub 2010 Jan 25.

Laboratoire AMIS, FRE 2960 CNRS, Université de Toulouse, 37 allées Jules Guesde, 31073 Toulouse, France.

Background: The Yakuts contrast strikingly with other populations from Siberia due to their cattle- and horse-breeding economy as well as their Turkic language. On the basis of ethnological and linguistic criteria as well as population genetic studies, it has been assumed that they originated from South Siberian populations. However, many questions regarding the origins of this intriguing population still need to be clarified (e.g. the precise origin of paternal lineages and the admixture rate with indigenous populations). This study attempts to better understand the origins of the Yakuts by performing genetic analyses on 58 mummified frozen bodies dated from the 15th to the 19th century, excavated from Yakutia (Eastern Siberia).

Results: High quality data were obtained for the autosomal STRs, Y-chromosomal STRs and SNPs and mtDNA due to exceptional sample preservation. A comparison with the same markers on seven museum specimens excavated 3 to 15 years ago showed significant differences in DNA quantity and quality. Direct access to ancient genetic data from these molecular markers combined with the archaeological evidence, demographical studies and comparisons with 166 contemporary individuals from the same location as the frozen bodies helped us to clarify the microevolution of this intriguing population.

Conclusion: We were able to trace the origins of the male lineages to a small group of horse-riders from the Cis-Baïkal area. Furthermore, mtDNA data showed that intermarriages between the first settlers with Evenks women led to the establishment of genetic characteristics during the 15th century that are still observed today.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1471-2148-10-25DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2829035PMC
January 2010

Increasing the discrimination power of forensic STR testing by employing high-performance mass spectrometry, as illustrated in indigenous South African and Central Asian populations.

Int J Legal Med 2010 Nov 16;124(6):551-8. Epub 2010 Jan 16.

Institute of Legal Medicine, Innsbruck Medical University, Müllerstrasse 44, 6020, Innsbruck, Austria.

Short tandem repeat (STR) typing has become the standard technique in forensic methodology for the identification of unknown samples. National DNA databases have been established that contain STR genotypes for intelligence purposes. Due to their success, national DNA databases have been growing so fast that the number of advantageous matches may become a logistic problem for the analysts. This is especially true for partial STR profiles as they display reduced discrimination power. To overcome this drawback, modified versions (so-called mini-STRs) of existing loci were introduced as well as new loci to improve the information content of (partial) STR profiles. We pursue an alternative approach that makes use of nucleotide variation within the amplified STR fragments, which can be discerned by mass spectrometry. We have developed an assay that determines molecular masses from crude STR amplicons which were purified and separated by a liquid chromatographic system directly hyphenated to an electrospray ionization mass spectrometer. We present here new population data of forensically relevant STRs in Khoisan and Yakut populations. These autochthonous groups were selected as they may harbor additional STR alleles that are rare or unobserved in modern humans from cosmopolitan areas, especially for the Khoisan, which are known to represent a very ancient human population. The analysis of the molecular mass of STRs offered a widened spectrum of allele variability escorted by enhanced forensic use. Thus, established STR data derived from fragment size analysis can still be used in casework or in the context of intelligence databasing.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00414-009-0408-xDOI Listing
November 2010

Forensic and phylogeographic characterization of mtDNA lineages from northern Thailand (Chiang Mai).

Int J Legal Med 2009 Nov;123(6):495-501

Institute of Legal Medicine, Innsbruck Medical University, Müllerstrasse 44, Innsbruck, Austria.

The immigration of diverse ethnic groups over the past centuries from surrounding countries into Thailand left footprints in the genetic composition of Thai mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) lineages. The entire mtDNA control region (1,122 bp) was typed in 190 unrelated male volunteers from the northern Thailand province of Chiang Mai following highest quality standards. For a more precise haplogroup classification, selected single nucleotide polymorphisms from the mtDNA coding region were genotyped. We found several new, so far undescribed mtDNA lineages. Quasi-median networks were constructed for visualisation of character conflicts. The data were put into population-genetic relationships with other Southeast Asian populations. Although the frequencies of the Thai haplogroups were characteristic for Southeast Asia in terms of haplotype composition and genetic structure, the Thai population was significantly different from other Southeast Asian populations. This necessitates establishing regional databases, especially for forensic applications. The population data have been submitted to the EMPOP database (www.empop.org) and will be available on publication.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00414-009-0373-4DOI Listing
November 2009

Detection of the A189G mtDNA heteroplasmic mutation in relation to age in modern and ancient bones.

Int J Legal Med 2009 Mar 12;123(2):161-7. Epub 2008 Jul 12.

CNRS, FRE 2960, Laboratoire d'Anthropobiologie, 37 allées Jules Guesde, 31073, Toulouse, France.

The aim of this study was to demonstrate the presence of the A189G age-related point mutation on DNA extracted from bone. For this, a peptide nucleic acid (PNA)/DNA sequencing method which can determine an age threshold for the appearance of the mutation was used. Initially, work was done in muscle tissue in order to evaluate the sensitivity of the technique and afterwards in bone samples from the same individuals. This method was also applied to ancient bones from six well-preserved skeletal remains. The mutation was invariably found in muscle, and at a rate of up to 20% in individuals over 60 years old. In modern bones, the mutation was detected in individuals aged 38 years old or more, at a rate of up to 1%, but its occurrence was not systematic (only four out of ten of the individuals over 50 years old carried the heteroplasmy). For ancient bones, the mutation was also found in the oldest individuals according to osteologic markers. The study of this type of age-related mutation and a more complete understanding of its manifestation has potentially useful applications. Combined with traditional age markers, it could improve identification accuracy in forensic cases or in anthropological studies of ancient populations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00414-008-0266-yDOI Listing
March 2009

A rape case solved by mitochondrial DNA mixture analysis.

J Forensic Sci 2007 Jul 6;52(4):891-4. Epub 2007 Jun 6.

Institut de Médecine Légale, EA 3428, 11 rue Humann, 67085 Strasbourg Cedex, France, and Laboratoire CODGENE, 11 rue Humann, 67085 Strasbourg Cedex, France.

In cases of stains that contain mixed DNA from different contributors, analyzing mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) requires the use of cloning techniques. We developed an efficient cloning technique that was applied in a rape case. After a differential lysis-based DNA extraction from vaginal swabs, hypervariable region I and II (HVI, HVII) amplicons obtained from the male fraction were cloned. Although we mainly found the victim's haplotype, we were able to detect the suspect's haplotype in two clones for HVI and in one clone for HVII. As the midpiece of the flagellum, which contains mitochondria, can be lost during the differential lysis, we also investigated the female fraction by cloning to evaluate the proportion of victim/suspect mtDNA. Unfortunately, only clones presenting the victim's haplotype were found. This case highlights the need for an optimal differential lysis protocol to enrich the male fraction not only with nuclear but also mitochondrial DNA.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1556-4029.2007.00473.xDOI Listing
July 2007