Comparative tolerance of two massively parallel sequencing systems to common PCR inhibitors

Kyleen Elwick, Xiangpei Zeng, Jonathan King, Bruce Budowle, Sheree Hughes-Stamm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Human remains can be severely affected by the environment, and the DNA may be damaged, degraded, and/or inhibited. In this study, a DNA sample (at 1 ng DNA target input in triplicate) was spiked with five concentrations of five inhibitors (humic acid, melanin, hematin, collagen, and calcium) and sequenced with both the HID-Ion AmpliSeq™ Library Kit and ID panel on the Ion PGM™ System and the ForenSeq DNA Signature Prep Kit on the MiSeq FGx™. The objective of this study was to compare the baseline tolerance of the two sequencing chemistries and platforms to common inhibitors encountered in human remains recovered from missing person cases. The two chemistries generally were comparable but not always susceptible to the same inhibitors or at the same capacity. The HID-Ion AmpliSeq™ Library Kit and ID panel and the ForenSeq DNA Signature Prep Kit both were susceptible to humic acid, melanin, and collagen; however, the ForenSeq kit showed greater inhibition to melanin and collagen than the AmpliSeq™ kit. In contrast, the ForenSeq kit was resistant to the effects of hematin and calcium, whereas the AmpliSeq™ kit was highly inhibited by hematin. Short tandem repeats (STRs) and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) showed the same trend among inhibitors when using the ForenSeq kit. Generally, locus read depth, heterozygote allele balance, and the numbers of alleles typed were inversely correlated with increasing inhibitor concentration. The larger STR loci were affected more so by the presence of inhibitors compared to smaller STR amplicons and SNP loci. Additionally, it does not appear that sequence noise is affected by the inhibitors. The noise percentage, however, does increase as the inhibitor concentration increases, due to the decrease in locus read depth and not likely because of chemistry effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)983-995
Number of pages13
JournalInternational journal of legal medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2018


  • ForenSeq DNA Signature Prep Kit
  • HID-Ion AmpliSeq™ Library Kit
  • Noise
  • PCR inhibitors
  • SNP
  • STR


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