'harmless' PCR test

Chris Boyd chrisb at hgu.mrc.ac.uk
Mon Dec 7 07:51:25 EST 1998


Ned Mantei (mantei at cell.biol.ethz.ch) wrote:
: 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
: isn't!
: 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.

The safest way out of the paternity morass is for the samples to be
taken in, randomized anonymously by the instructor and then
redistributed to each student for analysis. That way, each student
would have the thrill of getting a distinctive pattern without the
potentially dangerous knowledge of whose DNA they were working with.

Actually I believe it has been shown that the high degree of
non-paternity often reported is an exaggeration of the true picture
(speaking for the UK).

Best wishes,
-- 
Chris Boyd                      | from (but not \  MRC Human Genetics Unit
Christopher.Boyd at hgu.mrc.ac.uk  | on behalf of) /      Crewe Rd, Edinburgh
http://www.hgu.mrc.ac.uk/Users/Christopher.Boyd          EH4 2XU, SCOTLAND



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