Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2019, $146,805)
Advances in forensic science DNA analysis have enabled for greater detection, collection, and analysis of evidentiary biological material. However, in many cases, the low amounts of human DNA collected lack sufficient quality and/or quantity to produce a full genetic profile. This proposal is designed to address the development and implication of the human viral skin microbiome (also known as the virome) as an alternative, more stable and robust genetic source that can be utilized in instances where traditional short tandem repeat (STR) analysis of human DNA is not feasible. The skin virome offers some advantages over traditional human and/or skin bacterial DNA, as it is protected by a protein capsid and condensed. Because viruses mutate faster than other organisms, it has greater genetic diversity leading to the potential development of more specific genetic markers. Preliminary data has shown that the human virome has regions of stability over time, as well as variation in viral community composition from one individual to the next.
In cases where the human DNA template is too low and allele dropout is experienced, the addition of virome genetic markers can act to increase the power of discrimination of a profile. The goal of this project is to further investigate the applicability of the human virome by establishing human skin viral candidate biomarkers that can be utilized in an accurate, reproducible, and highly discriminatory pattern profile.These biomarkers will then be incorporated into a microarray-based assay that will enable for rapid and cost-effective production of a virome profile. As such, development of this microarray-based tool will aid in the integration of virome processing into the current forensic tool kit and its application into real world situations beyond method development.
Note: This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law," and complies with Part 200 Uniform Requirements - 2 CFR 200.210(a)(14). ca/ncf