Artificial fingerprints for cross-comparison of forensic DNA and protein recovery methods

Danielle S. LeSassier, Kathleen Q. Schulte, Tara E. Manley, Alan R. Smith, Megan L. Powals, Nicolette C. Albright, Benjamin C. Ludolph, Katharina L. Weber, August E. Woerner, Myles W. Gardner, F. Curtis Hewitt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Quantitative genomic and proteomic evaluation of human latent fingerprint depositions represents a challenge within the forensic field, due to the high variability in the amount of DNA and protein initially deposited. To better assess recovery techniques for touch depositions, we present a method to produce simple and customizable artificial fingerprints. These artificial fingerprint samples include the primary components of a typical latent fingerprint, specifically sebaceous fluid, eccrine perspiration, extracellular DNA, and proteinaceous epidermal skin material (i.e., shed skin cells). A commercially available emulsion of sebaceous and eccrine perspiration material provides a chemically-relevant suspension solution for fingerprint deposition, simplifying artificial fingerprint production. Extracted human genomic DNA is added to accurately mimic the extracellular DNA content of a typical latent print and comparable DNA yields are recovered from the artificial prints relative to human prints across surface types. Capitalizing on recent advancements in the use of protein sequence identification for human forensic analysis, these samples also contain a representative quantity of protein, originating from epidermal skin cells collected from the fingers and palms of volunteers. Proteomic sequencing by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) analysis indicates a high level of protein overlap between artificial and latent prints. Data are available via ProteomeXchange with identifier PXD015445. By including known quantities of DNA and protein into each artificial print, this method enables total DNA and protein recovery to be quantitatively assessed across different sample collection and extraction methods to better evaluate extraction efficiency. Collectively, these artificial fingerprint samples are simple to make, highly versatile and customizable, and accurately represent the biochemical composition and biological signatures of human fingerprints.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0223170
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2019


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