Discipline: Forensic Sciences
Arris Thornton - Alabama State University
Co-Author(s): Gabrielle Maloy, Alabama State University; Sheree J. Finley, Alabama State University; Gulnaz T. Javan Alabama State University
Gene expression studies of postmortem specimens has the potential to expand forensic investigations by determining the time or manner of death. The thanatotranscriptome (thanatos-, the Greek word for death) involves the study of mRNA transcript abundance occurring in human tissues after death. Postmortem gene expression studies have evolved over the years for the continuing studies of mRNA transcripts and their gene up- and downregulation. The identification of transcript abundances in human body tissues through mRNA-based profiling is very useful for forensic investigations. Previous studies have demonstrated that mRNA biomarkers are stable after death and effective to identify the origins of forensically important biological samples. In the current study, we hypothesized that there will be a significant upregulation in transcript abundance in cadaver adrenal glands of accidental criminal cases due to their difference in stress levels. The intent of this study is to determine mRNAs molecular markers that provide accurate information regarding the cause and/or manner of death. In order to test our hypothesis, we used postmortem adrenal glands from actual criminal casework from the University on Pavia in Pavia, Italy. We extracted RNA, converted the RNA to complimentary DNA, and created a reverse transcriptase mix to insert into a Stress and Toxicity Pathfinder PCR Array to amplify the genes expressed in the postmortem tissues. Results showed that on day three more genes were overexpressed than on day seven. The results demonstrated that on day three, genes CDKN1A, LDHA, SQSTM1, TXN, ULK1, VEGA were upregulated. These genes are linked to many effects such as, oxidative stress response, cancer, and cell progression. In conclusion, this study will advance the medicolegal field toward using mRNA molecular biomarkers to improve manner of death determinations.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): National Science Foundation HRD 2011764
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Gulnaz Javan, Gjavan@alasu.edu
Role: In conducting this research I performed RNA extraction, cDNA analysis, Gene expression analysis by quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction.