'harmless' PCR test

Ned Mantei mantei at cell.biol.ethz.ch
Sun Dec 6 05:49:55 EST 1998

In article <74bn5u$2u4$1 at newsreader.wustl.edu>, aacaudy at artsci.wustl.edu
(Amy Anne Caudy) wrote:

> I think that you're being a bit overconcerned about the results of two
> people having similar PCR products...for one thing, with 16 bp difference
> between different alleles, it's hard to say that people have the same
> allele, plus who's to say that they don't happen to by chance?  Assuming
> you don't have the whole family in there testing everyone, you won't be
> able to prove interrelatedness. 

I was thinking particularly of students comparing their alleles with those
of *their parents*. If alleles from the student don't match up with one
from each parent,then one of the people the student considers as a parent
isn't. You can't prove interrelatedness with one microsatellite, but you
can prove non-relatedness (excepting mutations during the meiosis that
gave rise to the student). I don't want to be the one causing a student to
find out, for example, that the person she "knows" to be her father really
Upon further reflection, what would be perfectly appropriate would be for
students to amplify just their own DNA, and compare the results with those
of others. I assume this is what you did in your course.

Ned Mantei
Dept. of Cell Biology, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology
CH-8093 Zurich, Switzerland

More information about the Methods mailing list