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Tionna White
Mr. Newman
Forensic Science
10 December 2014
DNA Fingerprinting
The process of DNA fingerprinting is to analyze samples of body tissue and fluids to
identify specific individuals. Scientists start by isolating DNA from blood, semen, hair roots, and
so forth. Then they amplify the DNA with PCR, Polymerase Chain Reaction and treat it with
reaction enzymes which result in different fragment sizes. And these different sizes are called
RFLP, short for Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism. There are many different processes
of fingerprinting but this is most common because of how effective it is.
Researchers examine the diverse sizes of fragments in an experiment then separate DNA
based on their size, with gel electrophoresis. Gel electrophoresis starts with fragments of DNA
from restriction enzyme cleavage are separated when they transfer through a Jell-O like
substance called agarose gel. The size-based separation of the DNA is told apart based on its size
when an electric current is applied to the gel. Then the separated DNA fragments are taken out of
the gel using a nylon membrane. The nylon membrane is treated with chemicals that break the
hydrogen bonds in DNA and it separates the strands and the single stranded DNA is cross linked
to the nylon membrane. After that, you must incubate the nylon membrane with a radioactive
probe of single stranded DNA complementary to the VNTRs. The radioactive probe shows up on
photographic film and as it decays, it gives off light which leave a dark spot on the film which

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makes up a fingerprint. Once the filter is exposed to the film, radioactive sequences produce a
pattern called a fingerprint. And that is how gel electrophoresis works.
When we did gel electrophoresis in class, we did not copy the entire procedure. After
creating the agarose mixture, we heated it up. But, when we poured it into the mold we did not
use tape to secure the mixture; we poured it very slow. Once we did that, we placed the comb
carefully on the mixture. The procedure said it should harden in about a half an hour but we let
ours sit overnight. Once we got to the stage where we needed to fill the open pores with DNA,
we had prepackaged DNA. With that being said, we did not have to use the loading buffer and
add it to the DNA to make the sample visible. You are supposed to take your mold and drop it
into a mixture to make it visible but we did not have to do this step. Clearly we did the simplified
version of gel electrophoresis but our lab was still fun and incredibly effective.
There are many advantages and disadvantages with the use of gel electrophoresis. One of
its major disadvantages is the high cost of everything and actually performing this procedure.
Along with that, once a sample is placed into the gel, it is impossible for a scientist to abstract all
the material out of the original. And you must be careful with gel electrophoresis because the
electric current may harm the material. Now, there are advantages to gel electrophoresis; with
this process scientists can easily detect DNA and proteins disregarding the size. The
concentration of the agarose gel is chosen before the procedure starts so you can easily separate
the molecule of interest based on its size. Also, this gel does not denature the DNA so you will
not have to worry about it destroying your material. Overall, this is one of the best ways for
DNA fingerprinting to date.

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The summarized definition of DNA fingerprinting is basically a laboratory practice used to
create a link between biological evidence and a suspect in a criminal investigation. This has
served governments worldwide for over a hundred years to provide accurate identification of
criminals. The first professional forensics organization was established in 1915 (IAI), the
International Association for Identification. Scientists from all different parts of the world have
found fingerprints and researched how to identify them. This information dates back to BC 200s
in China. The Chinese had their foot in the door to this information before we even knew which
route to take. Qin Dynasty included many details about using handprints as evidence during
burglary investigations because back then, that type of activity was spinning out of
control. There were many people who came along with ideas about DNA fingerprinting but the
Chinese were most successful.
Gel electrophoresis is a process that uses a gel substance to separate DNA into fragments
of it according to size. This has successfully identified criminals and even has been used in
paternity testing. It can be a long process depending on which method you use but the most
effective way is with the agarose gel and electrical currents because your evidence cannot get
destroyed and you can also make copies of it. Doing the hands-on experiment was a nice
experience for me and I have learned a lot from researching the history.

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