Author(s): Van Steendam K, De Ceuleneer M, Dhaenens M, Van Hoofstat D, Deforce D
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Abstract In forensic casework analysis, identification of the biological matrix and the species of a forensic trace, preferably without loss of DNA, is of major importance. The biological matrices that can be encountered in a forensic context are blood (human or non-human), saliva, semen, vaginal fluid, and to a lesser extent nasal secretions, feces, and urine. All these matrices were applied on swabs and digested with trypsin in order to obtain peptides. These peptides were injected on a mass spectrometer (ESI Q-TOF) resulting in the detection of several biomarkers that were used to build a decision tree for matrix identification. Saliva and blood were characterized by the presence of alpha-amylase 1 and hemoglobin, respectively. In vaginal fluid, cornulin, cornifin, and/or involucrin were found as biomarkers while semenogelin, prostate-specific antigen, and/or acid phosphatase were characteristic proteins for semen. Uromodulin or AMBP protein imply the presence of urine, while plunc protein is present in nasal secretions. Feces could be determined by the presence of immunoglobulins without hemoglobin. The biomarkers for the most frequently encountered biological matrices (saliva, blood, vaginal fluid, and semen) were validated in blind experiments and on real forensic samples. Additionally, by means of this proteomic approach, species identification was possible. This approach has the advantage that the analysis is performed on the first "washing" step of the chelex DNA extraction, a solution which is normally discarded, and that one single test is sufficient to determine the identity and the species of the biological matrix, while the conventional methods require cascade testing. This technique can be considered as a useful additional tool for biological matrix identification in forensic science and holds the promise of further automation.
This article was published in Int J Legal Med
and referenced in Journal of Forensic Research