Species-specific differences in a non-polymorphic region of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene appear to be large enough to allow human-specific amplification of forensic DNA samples. We therefore developed a PCR-based method using newly designed primers to amplify a 157-bp portion of the human mitochondrial cytochrome b gene. The forward and reverse primers were designed to hybridize to regions of the human mitochondrial cytochrome b gene with sequences differing from those of chimpanzee by 26% (7 bp/27 bp) and 26% (6 bp/23 bp), respectively. Using this primer pair, we successfully amplified DNA extracted from blood samples of 48 healthy adults. All these human samples produced a single band of the expected size on agarose gel electrophoresis, and the sequence of the single band was shown to be identical to that of the target region (157 bp) by sequence analysis. On the other hand, no visible bands were amplified from DNA extracted from blood samples of animals including non-human primates (chimpanzee, gorilla, Japanese monkey, crab-eating monkey) and other species (cow, pig, dog, goat, rat, chicken and tuna). Thus, DNA producing a single band following PCR amplification using this primer pair can be reasonably interpreted as being of human origin. In addition, aged biological specimens comprising bloodstains, hair shafts and bones were successfully identified as being of human origin, illustrating the applicability of the present method to forensic specimens.
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