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Nuclear DNA Typing From Ancient Teeth

Sosa, Cecilia PhD*; Baeta, Miriam BA*; Núñez, Carolina BA*; Casalod, Yolanda PhD*; Luna, Aurelio PhD; Martínez-Jarreta, Begoña PhD*

The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology: September 2012 - Volume 33 - Issue 3 - p 211–214
doi: 10.1097/PAF.0b013e3181fe3401
Original Articles

Because of the adverse effects that diagenesis exert on ancient skeletal remains, DNA from these samples is often compromised to the point where genetic typing can be challenging. Nevertheless, robust and reliable methods are currently available to allow successful genotyping of ancient specimens. Here we report nuclear DNA–based methods and typing strategies used to analyze 2 human skeletons from a medieval burial. Reliable DNA nuclear profiles were obtained from teeth, whereas mitochondrial DNA analyses in bones were inconclusive. A complete nuclear mini short tandem repeat profile was obtained from a well-preserved premolar, but only a partial one from the femur. Increasing the sensitivity of the polymerase chain reaction system allowed a full profile from the latter, but the presence of artifacts reinforced the idea that the interpretation of this kind of analysis must be performed with caution. The results presented here also indicate that DNA from dental pieces can be better preserved than from bones, even in the case of well-preserved long bones with thick cortical tissue such as the femurs, and have a better chance of successful genetic typing, probably because of the high degree of protection conferred to the DNA by the enamel.

From the *Department of Forensic Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Zaragoza, Zaragoza; and †Department of Forensic Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Murcia, Campus del Espinardo, Murcia, Spain.

Manuscript received July 21, 2010; accepted August 10, 2010.

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Reprints: Cecilia Sosa, PhD, Department of Forensic Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Zaragoza, C/Domingo Miral s/n, Zaragoza 50.009, Spain. E-mail:

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.