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DNA Profiling - Blood Typing And The Abo Groupings

person type people sample

Before the development of the molecular biology tools that make DNA testing possible, investigators identified people through blood typing. This method hails from 1900, when Karl Landsteiner first discovered that people inherited different blood types. Several decades later, researchers determined that the basis for those blood types was a set of proteins on the surface of red blood cells.

The main proteins on the surface of red blood cells used in blood typing come in two varieties: A and B. Every person inherits from their parents either the genes for the A protein, the B protein, both, or neither. Someone who inherits the A gene from one parent and neither gene from the other parent has blood type A. If a person inherits both genes, they are AB. A person who inherits neither is type O. Another protein group found on red blood cells is referred to collectively as the Rh factor. People either have the Rh factor or they do not, regardless of which of the A and B genes they inherited. To type a person's blood, antibodies against these various proteins (A, B, and Rh) are mixed with a blood sample. If the proteins are present, the blood cells will stick together and the sample will get cloudy.

A robot used in DNA profiling adds solution and stirs DNA samples from tissues taken from September 11, 2001, New York terrorism victims. The tissue is being identified by matching DNA samples, which is the essence of DNA profiling.

Blood typing can be used to exclude the possibility that a blood sample came from a particular person, if the person's type does not match that of the sample. However, it cannot be used to claim that any particular person is the source of the sample, because there are so few blood types, and they are shared by so many people. About 45 percent of people in the United States are type O, and another 40 percent are type A. If four people were physically present at the scene of a murder, and the candlestick found nearby had type O blood spilled on it, chances are good that two of those individuals could be found guilty of the crime, based solely on the blood typing evidence. Most court cases, however, rely on more evidence than just blood or DNA typing, such as whose fingerprints are also found on the candlestick (see Statistics and the Prosecutor's Fallacy, below).

DNA Profiling - Dna Polymorphism Offers High Resolution [next]

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