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Research group/lab


Prof. Dr. Manfred Kayser Head, Department of Genetic Identification

About our research group/lab

Our research

Molecular Tissue Characterization and Identification

Department Genetic Identification

Almost every human tissue is composed of different cell types in different numbers with different molecular characteristics. Identifying human tissues by molecular test systems that target these tissue-specific characteristics is relevant in various areas. For instance, knowing the type of tissue a human biological sample found at a crime scene is composed of is important in forensics, as different tissue types allow different conclusions on the scenarios how the crime has happened. Therefore, we are interested in the molecular characterization of human tissue types. Often starting with genome-wide screens, we are developing knowledge, markers, and tools for human tissue identification, and make them available for applications.
Our earlier work revealed various mRNA markers for different human tissue types for which we not only demonstrated tissue-specific expression, but also stable in-vitro stability serving as prerequisite for future forensic applications. Moreover, we develop test systems that combine RNA-based forensic tissue identification with DNA-based human individual identification. While our previous focus mostly was on RNA, we are also investigating DNA differences between human tissues. In principle, the use of DNA for forensic tissue identification is preferred so that tissue and individual identification obtained from the same sample is based on the same biomolecule. 

Key Publications

Selected relevant publications:

  • Zubakov et al. Towards simultaneous individual and tissue identification: A proof-of-principle study on parallel sequencing of STRs, amelogenin, and mRNAs with the Ion Torrent PGM. Forensic Sci Int Genet. 2015 17: 122-8. [PubMed: 25966466]
  • Lindenbergh et al. A multiplex (m)RNA-profiling system for the forensic identification of body fluids and contact traces. Forensic Sci Int Genet. 2012 6: 565-77. [PubMed: 22361234]
  • Visser et al. mRNA-based skin identification for forensic applications. Int J Legal Med. 2011 125: 253-63. [PubMed: 21221983]
  • Kayser, M., de Knijff, P. Improving human forensics through advances in genetics, genomics and molecular biology. Nat Rev Genet. 2011 12: 179-92. [PubMed: 21331090]
  • Zubakov et al. M. MicroRNA markers for forensic body fluid identification obtained from microarray screening and quantitative RT-PCR confirmation. Int J Legal Med. 2010 124: 217-26. [PubMed: 20145944]
  • Zubakov et al. New markers for old stains: stable mRNA markers for blood and saliva identification from up to 16-year-old stains. Int J Legal Med. 2009 123: 71-4. [PubMed: 18594850]
  • Zubakov et al. Stable RNA markers for identification of blood and saliva stains revealed from whole genome expression analysis of time-wise degraded samples. Int J Legal Med. 2008 122: 135-42. [PubMed: 17579879