WGA (Whole Genome Amplification) in forensic genetics can eliminate the technical limitations arising from low amounts of genomic DNA (gDNA). However, it has not been used to date because any amplification bias generated may complicate the interpretation of results. Our aim in this paper was to assess the applicability of MDA to forensic SNP genotyping by performing a comparative analysis of genomic and amplified DNA samples. A 26-SNPs TaqMan panel specifically designed for low copy number (LCN) and/or severely degraded genomic DNA was typed on 100 genomic as well as amplified DNA samples.
Aliquots containing 1, 0.1 and 0.01 ng each of 100 DNA samples were typed for a 26-SNPs panel. Similar aliquots of the same DNA samples underwent multiple displacement amplification (MDA) before being typed for the same panel. Genomic DNA samples showed 0% PCR failure rate for all three dilutions, whilst the PCR failure rate of the amplified DNA samples was 0% for the 1 ng and 0.1 ng dilutions and 0.077% for the 0.01 ng dilution. The genotyping results of both the amplified and genomic DNA samples were also compared with reference genotypes of the same samples obtained by direct sequencing. The genomic DNA samples showed genotype concordance rates of 100% for all three dilutions while the concordance rates of the amplified DNA samples were 100% for the 1 ng and 0.1 ng dilutions and 99.923% for the 0.01 ng dilution. Moreover, ten artificially-degraded DNA samples, which gave no results when analyzed by current forensic methods, were also amplified by MDA and genotyped with 100% concordance.
We investigated the suitability of MDA material for forensic SNP typing. Comparative analysis of amplified and genomic DNA samples showed that a large number of SNPs could be accurately typed starting from just 0.01 ng of template. We found that the MDA genotyping call and accuracy rates were only slightly lower than those for genomic DNA. Indeed, when 10 pg of input DNA was used in MDA, we obtained 99.923% concordance, indicating a genotyping error rate of 1/1299 (7.7 × 10-4). This is quite similar to the genotyping error rate of STRs used in current forensic analysis. Such efficiency and accuracy of SNP typing of amplified DNA suggest that MDA can also generate large amounts of genome-equivalent DNA from a minimal amount of input DNA. These results show for the first time that MDA material is suitable for SNP-based forensic protocols and in general when samples fail to give interpretable STR results.