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The Application of Ultraviolet Irradiation to Exogenous Sources of DNA in Plasticware and Water for the Amplification of Low Copy Number DNA


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Theresa Caragine, Ph.D.
The Department of Forensic Biology
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of the City of New York
520 First Avenue
New York, NY 10016


ABSTRACT: Using high sensitivity forensic STR polymerase chain reaction (PCR) typing procedures, we have found low concentrations of DNA contamination in plasticware and water assumed to be sterile, which is not detected by standard DNA procedures. One technique commonly used to eliminate the presence of DNA is ultraviolet (UV) irradiation; we optimized such a protocol used in the treatment of water, tubes, plates, and tips for low copy number DNA (LCN) amplification. UV light from a Stratalinker® 2400 was administered to 0.2, 1.5 mL tubes, and PCR plates contaminated with up to 500 pg of DNA. They were subsequently quantified with an ALU-based real-time PCR method using the Rotorgene 3000. Overall, there was a decrease in concentration of DNA recovered as the duration of treatment increased. Nonetheless, following 45 min of irradiating a PCR plate with 500 pg of DNA, nearly 6 pg were still detected. However, when the plate was raised within an inch of the UV source, less than 0.2 pg of DNA was detected. Additionally, lining the area around the samples with aluminum foil further reduced the amount of time necessary for irradiation, as only 30 min eliminated the presence DNA in the raised PCR plate. Similar experiments were conducted using tubes filled with a solution of DNA and water in equivalent concentrations for 50, 15, and 1.5 mL tubes with comparative results. It is plausible that the aluminum foil increased the amount of reflection in the area thereby enhancing penetration of UV rays through the walls of the plasticware. This protocol was tested for the possibility of inhibitors produced from irradiation of plastic tubes. As our protocols require less irradiation time than previous studies, PCR sensitivity was not affected. Moreover, the lifespan of the UV lamps was extended. Our findings demonstrate that this method is useful as an additional precautionary measure to prevent amplification of extraneous DNA from plasticware and water without compromising the sensitivity of LCN DNA amplifications.

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