Purpose: The primary method for analysis of low template DNA (LTDNA) is known as the low copy number (LCN) method involving an increased number of PCR cycles (typically 34). In common with other LTDNA methods, LCN profiles are characterized by allelic imbalance, drop in, and drop out that require complicated interpretation rules. They often require replicate PCR reactions to generate a “consensus” profile in a specialized facility. An ideal method for analysis of LTDNA should enhance profiling outcomes without elevated error rates and be performed using standard facilities, with minimum additional cost. Methods: In this study, we present a comparison of four method variations for the amplification of STRs from LTDNA with a widely used, commercially available kit (AmpFlSTR® Profiler Plus®): the standard method, the standard method with a post-PCR clean up, the LCN method, and a reduced reaction volume with increased Taq DNA polymerase concentration. Results: Using telogen hairs—a common source of LTDNA—and matched reference DNA, the LCN method produced the highest number of concordant and non-concordant (i.e., dropped-in) alleles. In comparison, the reduced reaction volume with increased Taq polymerase yielded more full and concordant DNA profiles (all alleles combined) and less off-ladder alleles from a broad range of input DNA. In addition, this method resulted in less non-concordant alleles than LCN and no more than for standard PCR, which suggests that it may be preferred over increased PCR cycles for LTDNA analysis, either with or without consensus profiling and statistical modelling. Conclusions: Overall, this study highlights the importance and benefit of optimizing PCR conditions and developing improved laboratory methods to amplify and analyze LTDNA.
MCNEVIN, D., Edson, J., ROBERTSON, J., & Austin, J. (2015). Reduced reaction volumes and increased Taq DNA polymerase concentration improve STR profiling outcomes from a real-world low template DNA source: telogen hairs. Forensic Science, Medicine and Pathology, 11(3), 326-338. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12024-015-9679-3