A systematic approach to improve downstream single-cell analysis for the DEPArray™ technology

Janine Schulte, Michael A. Marciano, Eva Scheurer, Iris Schulz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Most commercially available STR amplification kits have never been fully validated for low template DNA analysis, highlighting the need for testing different PCR kits and conditions for improving single-cell profiling. Here, current strategies rely mainly on adjusting PCR cycle number and analytical threshold settings, with a strong preference for using 30 amplification cycles and thresholds at 30–150 RFU for allele detection. This study aimed to (1) determine appropriate conditions for obtaining informative profiles utilizing a dilution series, and (2) test the outcome on single cells using the DEPArray™ technology. Four routinely applied forensic STR kits were compared by using three different amplification volumes and DNA dilutions down to 3.0 pg, while two well-performing kits were used for single/pooled leucocyte and sperm cell genotyping. Besides reduced costs, the results demonstrate that a 50%–75% PCR volume reduction was beneficial for peak height evaluation. However, this was counteracted by an increased artifact generation in diluted DNA volumes. Regarding profile completeness, the advantage of volume reduction was only prominent in samples processed with Fusion 6C. For single and pooled cells, ESIFast and NGMDetect provided a solid basis for consensus profiling regarding locus failure, although locus dropouts were generally observed as stochastic events. Amplification volume of 12.5 μL was confirmed as appropriate in terms of peak heights and stutter frequencies, with increased stutter peaks being the main artifact in single-cell profiles. Limitations associated with these analyses are discussed, providing a solid foundation for further studies on low template DNA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1875-1893
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Forensic Sciences
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2023


  • DEPArray™ PLUS
  • LT-DNA
  • PCR
  • STR
  • amplification volume reduction
  • forensic single-cell analysis
  • low template DNA
  • polymerase chain reaction
  • short tandem repeat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Genetics


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