Utility of amplification enhancers in low copy number DNA analysis

Pamela L. Marshall, Jonathan L. King, Bruce Budowle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


One parameter that impacts the robustness and reliability of forensic DNA analyses is the amount of template DNA used in the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). With short tandem repeat (STR) typing, low copy number (LCN) DNA samples can present exaggerated stochastic effects during the PCR that result in heterozygote peak height imbalance, allele drop out, and increased stutter. Despite these effects, there has been little progress toward decreasing the formation of stutter products and heterozygote peak imbalance effects during PCR. In an attempt to develop a more robust system that is less refractory to stochastic effects, the PCR additives, betaine, DMSO, PEG, and PCRboost®, were investigated on low-quantity DNA samples. The effects of the additives were assessed by evaluating STR typing results. Of the four additives, the only positive effects were observed with betaine treatment. Betaine, at a final concentration of 1.25 mol/L, was found to improve the robustness of the amplification, specifically by decreasing stutter in a dual locus system. In contrast, the addition of 1.25 mol/L betaine to commercial STR amplification kits did not affect stutter ratios. However, the addition of betaine did lead to increased yield of PCR products in all commercial kits tested. The results support that betaine can improve amplification efficiency of LCN DNA samples.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-52
Number of pages10
JournalInternational journal of legal medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014


  • Betaine
  • PCR enhancer
  • STR typing
  • Stochastic effects


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