Evaluation of a multicapillary electrophoresis instrument for mitochondrial DNA typing

John E.B. Stewart, Patricia J. Aagaard, Eric G. Pokorak, Deborah Polanskey, Bruce Budowle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Laser-induced detection of fluorescent labeled PCR products and multi-wavelength detection (i.e., multicolor analysis) enables rapid generation of mtDNA sequencing profiles. Traditionally, polyacrylamide slab gels have been used as the electrophoretic medium for mtDNA sequencing in forensic analyses. Replacement of slab gel electrophoresis with capillary electrophoresis (CE) can facilitate automation of the analytical process. Automation and high throughput can be further enhanced by using multicapillary electrophoretic systems. The use of the ABI Prism® 3100 Genetic Analyzer (ABI 3100, Applied Biosystems, Foster City, CA) as well as the ABI Prism™ 310 Genetic Analyzer (ABI 310, Applied Biosystems, Foster City, CA) were evaluated for mtDNA sequencing capabilities and compared with sequencing results obtained on the platform currently in use in the FBI Laboratory (the ABI Prism™ 377 DNA Sequencer, ABI 377, Applied Biosystems, Foster City, CA). Various studies were performed to assess the utility of the ABI 3100, as well as the ABI 310 for mtDNA sequencing. The tests included: comparisons of results obtained among the ABI 3100, the ABI 310 and the ABI 377 instruments; comparisons of results obtained within and between capillary arrays; evaluation of capillary length; evaluation of sample injection time; evaluation of the resolution of mixtures/heteroplasmic samples; and evaluation of the sensitivity of detection of a minor component with reduced template on the ABI 3100. In addition, other studies were performed to improve sample preparation; these included: comparison of template suppression reagent (TSR, Applied Biosystems, Foster City, CA) versus formamide; the use of Performa™ DTR Gel Filtration Cartridges (Edge BioSystems™ Inc., Gaithersburg, MD) versus Centri-Sep Spin Columns (Princeton Separations, Adelphia, NJ) for product purification after cycle sequencing; and sample stability after denaturation. The data support that valid and reliable results can be obtained using either capillary electrophoresis instrument, and the quality of sequencing results are comparable to or better than those obtained from the ABI 377 instrument.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)571-580
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Forensic Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 May 2003


  • Capillary electrophoresis
  • Forensic science
  • Mitochondrial DNA sequencing
  • Polymerase chain reaction
  • Validation
  • mtDNA


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