Results of a Collaborative Study of the EDNAP Group Regarding Mitochondrial DNA Heteroplasmy and Segregation in Hair Shafts

Forensic Sci Int. 2004 Feb 10;140(1):1-11. doi: 10.1016/S0379-0738(03)00181-6.


A collaborative exercise was carried out by the European DNA Profiling Group (EDNAP) in order to evaluate the distribution of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) heteroplasmy amongst the hairs of an individual who displays point heteroplasmy in blood and buccal cells. A second aim of the exercise was to study reproducibility of mtDNA sequencing of hairs between laboratories using differing chemistries, further to the first mtDNA reproducibility study carried out by the EDNAP group. Laboratories were asked to type 2 sections from each of 10 hairs, such that each hair was typed by at least two laboratories. Ten laboratories participated in the study, and a total of 55 hairs were typed. The results showed that the C/T point heteroplasmy observed in blood and buccal cells at position 16234 segregated differentially between hairs, such that some hairs showed only C, others only T and the remainder, C/T heteroplasmy at varying ratios. Additionally, differential segregation of heteroplasmic variants was confirmed in independent extracts at positions 16093 and the poly(C) tract at 302-309, whilst a complete A-G transition was confirmed at position 16129 in one hair. Heteroplasmy was observed at position 16195 on both strands of a single extract from one hair segment, but was not observed in the extracts from any other segment of the same hair. Similarly, heteroplasmy at position 16304 was observed on both strands of a single extract from one hair. Additional variants at positions 73, 249 and the HVII poly(C) region were reported by one laboratory; as these were not confirmed in independent extracts, the possibility of contamination cannot be excluded. Additionally, the electrophoresis and detection equipment used by this laboratory was different to those of the other laboratories, and the discrepancies at position 249 and the HVII poly(C) region appear to be due to reading errors that may be associated with this technology. The results, and their implications for forensic mtDNA typing, are discussed in the light of the biology of hair formation.

MeSH terms

  • DNA, Mitochondrial / analysis*
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics
  • Genetic Variation
  • Hair / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Mutation
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA*


  • DNA, Mitochondrial