DNA Fingerprinting Technique




DNA fingerprinting technique:

  • As mentioned earlier, 99.9% of the base sequence of the genome is the same in all humans. There is only 0.1% variation.
  • It is this 0.1% in sequence of DNA which makes every individual unique in their phenotypic appearance.
  • If one aims to find out genetic differences between two individuals or among individuals of a population, sequencing the DNA every time would be a daunting and expensive task. 
  • DNA fingerprinting is a very quick way to compare the DNA sequences of any two individuals.
  • The DNA fingerprinting technique was first developed by Alec Jeffreys in 1985 (Recipient of the Royal Society’s Copley Medal in 2014).
  • Each of us have the same chemical structure of DNA. But there are millions of differences in the DNA sequence of base pairs. This makes the uniqueness among us so that each of us except identical twins is different from each other genetically.
  • There are 23 pairs of human chromosomes with 1.5 million pairs of genes. It is a well known fact that genes are segments of DNA which differ in the sequence of their nucleotides. Not all segments of DNA code for proteins, some DNA segments have a regulatory function, while others are intervening sequences (introns), and still, others are repeated DNA sequences.
  • In DNA fingerprinting, short repetitive nucleotide sequences are specific for a person. These nucleotide sequences are called variable number tandem repeats (VNTR). The VNTRs of two persons generally show variations and are useful as genetic markers.
  • DNA fingerprinting involves identifying differences in some specific regions in a DNA sequence called repetitive DNA, because, in these sequences, a small stretch of DNA is repeated many times.
  • These repetitive DNA are separated from bulk genomic DNA as different peaks during density gradient centrifugation. The bulk DNA forms a major peak, and the other small peaks are referred to as satellite DNA. The satellite DNA is classified into many sub-categories such as micro-satellites, mini-satellites, etc.,
  • Depending on the
    (i) Base composition (A: T rich or G: C rich)
    (ii) Length of segment
    (iii) Number of repetitive units
  • These sequences do not code for any proteins, but they form a large portion of the human genome. These sequences show a high degree of polymorphism and form the basis of DNA fingerprinting.
  • DNA isolated from blood, hair, skin cells, or other genetic evidence left at the scene of a crime can be compared through VNTR patterns, with the DNA of a criminal suspect to determine guilt or innocence.
  • VNTR patterns are also useful in establishing the identity of a homicide victim, either from DNA found as evidence or from the body itself.
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