Evaluation of circular DNA substrates for whole genome amplification prior to forensic analysis

Courtney M. Tate, Ada N. Nuñez, Cori A. Goldstein, Iva Gomes, James M. Robertson, Mark F. Kavlick, Bruce Budowle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Forensic biological evidence often contains low quantities of DNA or substantially degraded DNA which makes samples refractory to genotype analysis. One approach that shows promise to overcome the limited quantity of DNA is whole genome amplification (WGA). One WGA technique, termed rolling circle amplification (RCA), involves the amplification of circular DNA fragments and this study evaluates a single-stranded (ss) DNA ligase enzyme for generating circular DNA templates for RCA WGA. Fast, efficient ligation of several sizes of ssDNA templates was achieved. The enzyme also ligated double-stranded (ds) DNA templates, a novel activity not previously reported. Adapter sequences containing optimal terminal nucleotide ends for increased ligation efficiency were designed and ligation of adapters to template DNA was optimized. Increased amplification of DNA templates was observed following WGA; however, no amplification advantage for ssDNA ligase treatment of templates was evident compared to linear templates. A multi-step process to utilize ssDNA ligase prior to WGA was developed and short tandem repeat (STR) analysis of simulated low template (LT) and fragmented DNA was evaluated. The process resulted in the loss of template DNA and failed STR analysis whereas input of linear genomic DNA template directly into WGA prior to STR analysis improved STR genotyping results compared to non-WGA treated samples. Inclusion of an extreme thermostable single-stranded DNA binding protein (SSB) during WGA also increased DNA yields. While STR artifacts such as peak imbalance, drop-in, and dropout persisted, WGA shows potential for successful genetic profiling of LT and fragmented DNA samples. Further research and development is warranted prior to use of WGA in forensic casework.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-190
Number of pages6
JournalForensic Science International: Genetics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2012


  • Forensic DNA analysis
  • Multiple displacement amplification (MDA)
  • Rolling circle amplification (RCA)
  • Whole genome amplification (WGA)


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