DNA and bone structure preservation in medieval human skeletons

Coulson-Thomas, Yvette M. and Norton, Andrew L. and Coulson-Thomas, Vivien J. and Florencio-Silva, Rinaldo and Ali, Nadir and Elmrghni, Samir and Gil, Cristiane D. and Sasso, Gisela R. S. and Dixon, Ronald A. and Nader, Helena B. (2015) DNA and bone structure preservation in medieval human skeletons. Forensic Science International, 251 . pp. 186-194. ISSN 0379-0738

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Abstract

Morphological and ultrastructural data from archaeological human bones are scarce, particularly data that have been correlated with information on the preservation of molecules such as DNA. Here we examine the bone structure of macroscopically well-preserved medieval human skeletons by transmission electron microscopy and immunohistochemistry, and the quantity and quality of DNA extracted from these skeletons. DNA technology has been increasingly used for analyzing physical evidence in archaeological forensics; however, the isolation of ancient DNA is difficult since it is highly degraded, extraction yields are low and the co-extraction of PCR inhibitors is a problem. We adapted and optimized a method that is frequently used for isolating DNA from modern samples, Chelex® 100 (Bio-Rad) extraction, for isolating DNA from archaeological human bones and teeth. The isolated DNA was analysed by real-time PCR using primers targeting the sex determining region on the Y chromosome (SRY) and STR typing using the AmpFlSTR® Identifiler PCR Amplification kit. Our results clearly show the preservation of bone matrix in medieval bones and the presence of intact osteocytes with well preserved encapsulated nuclei. In addition, we show how effective Chelex® 100 is for isolating ancient DNA from archaeological bones and teeth. This optimized method is suitable for STR typing using kits aimed specifically at degraded and difficult DNA templates since amplicons of up to 250 bp were successfully amplified.

Keywords:Ancient DNA, Archaeological bone, Archaeological teeth, Chelex, DNA typing, Electron microscopy, bmjgoldcheck, NotOAChecked
Subjects:F Physical Sciences > F400 Forensic and Archaeological Science
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
ID Code:17200
Deposited On:17 Apr 2015 15:41

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