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Identification of Forensically Relevant Fluids and Tissues by Small RNA Profiling

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 2013
73 pages
This report presents the findings and methodology of a research project that aimed to determine whether novel body fluid and tissue-specific small RNAs, such as microRNAs and piRNAs, can be used to identify biological fluids and tissues (blood, semen, saliva, vaginal secretion, menstrual blood, and skin).
The project also sought to demonstrate the suitability of the small RNA profiling assays for use with forensic casework the involves performance with low template samples, admixed body-fluid samples, and mock casework samples. In addition, the project compared other body-fluid identification strategies (mainly mRNA profiling), so as to determine the most suitable strategy for the analysis of environmentally impacted or degraded samples. Overall, the project demonstrated the ability of a miRNA profiling approach for the identification of the body fluid or tissue origin of forensic biological evidence with picogram-level sensitivity; however, at the time of the writing of this report, the project had not conclusively determined whether miRNA profiling is superior to mRNA profiling for the analysis of environmentally impacted samples. Further studies that use artificially degraded RNA samples may provide additional clarification regarding which approach is better suited for these types of samples. The logistic regression modeling developed by the current project provides a new opportunity to perform objective and definitive analysis of normalized expression data, which will have applications beyond just the miRNA profiling assays. Such an approach can be used for any study that involves the analysis of gene expression data. 19 figures, 10 tables, and 98 references

Date Published: December 1, 2013