Skip to main content

01.03.2011 | Original Article | Ausgabe 2/2011 Open Access

International Journal of Legal Medicine 2/2011

mRNA-based skin identification for forensic applications

International Journal of Legal Medicine > Ausgabe 2/2011
Mijke Visser, Dmitry Zubakov, Kaye N. Ballantyne, Manfred Kayser
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1007/​s00414-010-0545-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.


Although the identification of human skin cells is of important relevance in many forensic cases, there is currently no reliable method available. Here, we present a highly specific and sensitive messenger RNA (mRNA) approach for skin identification, meeting the key requirements in forensic analyses. We examined 11 candidate genes with skin-specific expression, as ascertained from expression databases and the literature, as well as five candidate reference genes ascertained from previous studies, in skin samples and in other forensically relevant tissues. We identified mRNA transcripts from three genes CDSN, LOR and KRT9, showing strong over-expression in skin samples relative to samples from forensic body fluids, making them suitable markers for skin identification. Out of the candidate reference genes tested, only ACTB showed similarly high expression in skin and body-fluid samples, providing a suitable reference marker for quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) analysis of skin. Analyses of palmar and thumbprint skin samples indicate that our qPCR approach for the three skin-targeted mRNA markers, as well as the reference mRNA marker ACTB, is highly sensitive, allowing successful detection of minute amounts of skin material including full, half and quarter thumbprints, albeit with decreased success in decreasing print material. Furthermore, thumbprints stored for 6.5 months provided similar results relative to freshly analysed samples implying reasonable time-wise stability of the three skin-targeted mRNAs as well as the ACTB reference mRNA. Our study represents the first attempt towards reliable mRNA-based skin identification in forensic applications with particular relevance for future trace/touched object analyses in forensic case work. Although the approach for skin identification introduced here can be informative when applied on its own, we recommend for increased reliability the integration of (one or more of) the skin-targeted mRNA markers presented here into multiplex assays additionally including mRNA markers targeting alternative cell types expected in forensic samples.

Unsere Produktempfehlungen

e.Med Interdisziplinär


Mit e.Med Interdisziplinär erhalten Sie Zugang zu allen CME-Fortbildungen und Fachzeitschriften auf

Über diesen Artikel

Weitere Artikel der Ausgabe 2/2011

International Journal of Legal Medicine 2/2011 Zur Ausgabe

Neu im Fachgebiet Rechtsmedizin

06.04.2020 | Schwerpunkt: Unser Immunsystem – der Staat im Staate | Ausgabe 3/2020

Der Darm im Fokus des Immunsystems

Seltene Darmerkrankungen bei primären Immundefekten

05.04.2020 | Adipositas | Schwerpunkt: Unser Immunsystem - der Staat im Staate | Ausgabe 3/2020

Fettgewebe und Malignität: Wie Adipositas Krankheiten begünstigt

02.04.2020 | Mammakarzinom | Schwerpunkt: Unser Immunsystem - der Staat im Staate | Ausgabe 3/2020

Immuntherapien beim Mammakarzinom: Neue Strategien

02.04.2020 | Schwerpunkt: Unser Immunsystem – der Staat im Staate | Ausgabe 3/2020

Das Komplementsystem – ein „hot topic“ nicht nur bei Nierenerkrankungen