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American Journal of Forensic Medicine & Pathology:
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Isolation and Identification of Female DNA on Postcoital Penile Swabs

Cina, Stephen J. M.D., MAJ, USAF, MC, FS; Collins, Kim A. M.D.; Pettenati, Mark J. Ph.D.; Fitts, Matthew Ph.D.

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Abstract

After sexual assault, cells originating from the assailant may be recovered from the victim. Through polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based technology, positive scientific identification of the assailant may be made from these cells. Described is a prospective study describing a method for positively identifying cells from a female sex partner obtained from postcoital swabs of the penis of the male sex partner. Swabs were taken from the penis of a man at 1- to 24-hour intervals after coitus. DNA was isolated from each swab through standard organic extraction methods. The presence of female DNA was detected using the gender-specific amelogenin marker. Extracted DNA was amplified for eight different genetic loci using the Promega PowerPlex kit (Promega) and Amplitaq Gold (Perkin Elmer). Amplified samples were electrophoresed on precast sequencing gels (Hitachi) and were analyzed fluorescently using Hitachi's FMBIO 2 fluorescent scanner and software. Each sample obtained from a penile swab or condom was compared to male and female buccal controls. Female DNA was isolated from all postcoital penile swabs as determined by exclusive amplification of the X-chromosome specific 212 base pair amelogenin marker. In all cases, scientific identification of the female DNA from the swabs was determined by coamplification of eight STR loci (Power-Plex) and was compared to female and male control profiles. Cells shed from a female victim during sexual intercourse can be retrieved from the penis of a male offender after sexual intercourse during a 1- to 24-hour postcoital interval. DNA can be extracted from these cells and can be used to scientifically identify the female sexual participant through PCR-based technology. It is suggested that penile swabs be taken from alleged perpetrators of sexual assaults to associate them with a female victim.

© 2000 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.

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