Identification of the heme compound copurified with deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) from bloodstains, a major inhibitor of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification

J Forensic Sci. 1994 Mar;39(2):362-72.


The heme compound found in deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) extracted from bloodstains, which is regarded as a major inhibitor of polymerase chain reaction (PCR), was characterized in comparison with alkaline and acid hematin, histidine and ammonia hemochromogens, and globin and serum albumin hemochromogens digested by proteinase K. Alkaline and acid hematin were almost completely removed by phenol/chloroform treatment and ethanol precipitation, so as not to be copurified with DNA from the specimens. Spectrophotometric results indicated that the contaminant was likely to be the product of proteinase K digestion of some heme-blood protein complex, which was not completely extracted by organic solvents and remained in the ethanol precipitates of DNA. The results of polyacrylamide gradient gel electrophoresis and intensity of the inhibition of PCR suggested that the ligand of the contaminant was a somewhat large molecule, resistant to the proteolysis by proteinase K. The addition of bovine serum albumin to the reaction mixture prevented the inhibition of PCR by the heme compounds, probably by binding to the heme. This showed that the inhibition was not due to the irreversible inactivation of the enzyme.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Blood Chemical Analysis / methods*
  • DNA, Mitochondrial*
  • Drug Interactions
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Endopeptidase K
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Forensic Medicine / methods*
  • Heme / analysis*
  • Hemin / analysis
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Serine Endopeptidases
  • Serum Albumin, Bovine
  • Spectrophotometry


  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • hemochromogen
  • Serum Albumin, Bovine
  • Heme
  • Hemin
  • Serine Endopeptidases
  • Endopeptidase K