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Human Organ Tissue Identification by Targeted RNA Deep Sequencing to Aid in the Investigation of Shooting and Other Traumatic Bodily Injury Incidents

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2020
12 pages

This is the Final Summary Overview of a project whose purpose was to use targeted multiplexed deep sequencing (next generation sequencing) of mRNA transcripts to identify the tissue or organ source of origin from putative tissue fragments to aid in the criminal investigation of shooting and other traumatic bodily injury involved in crimes.


Specific project goals were to use next generation sequencing (NGS) for the definitive identification of 11 human tissues from different organs (brain, lung, liver, hear, kidney, intestine, stomach, skeletal muscle, adipose, trachea, and spinal cord). Two prototype biomarker panels were developed: a 48-plex that contains numerous gene targets for each tissue and organ and an additional 54-plex that expands upon the 48-plex assay with the inclusion of biomarkers for fetal brain, placenta, and prostate. An NGS-based molecular organ tissue assay that can definitively identify internal organ tissue and that could be used by any laboratory with forensic NGS capabilities will facilitate the investigation and prosecution of cases in which potentially important contextual information about the organ tissue source of the DNA is present on a person, weapon, or other item. It is conceivable that in the future, organ tissue targets described will be incorporated together. 1 figure

Date Published: January 1, 2020