Forensic DNA Phenotyping (FDP), i.e. the prediction of human externally visible traits from DNA, has become a fast growing subfield within forensic genetics due to the intelligence information it can provide from DNA traces. FDP outcomes can help focus police investigations in search of unknown perpetrators, who are generally unidentifiable with standard DNA profiling. Therefore, we previously developed and forensically validated the IrisPlex DNA test system for eye colour prediction and the HIrisPlex system for combined eye and hair colour prediction from DNA traces. Here we introduce and forensically validate the HIrisPlex-S DNA test system (S for skin) for the simultaneous prediction of eye, hair, and skin colour from trace DNA. This FDP system consists of two SNaPshot-based multiplex assays targeting a total of 41 SNPs via a novel multiplex assay for 17 skin colour predictive SNPs and the previous HIrisPlex assay for 24 eye and hair colour predictive SNPs, 19 of which also contribute to skin colour prediction. The HIrisPlex-S system further comprises three statistical prediction models, the previously developed IrisPlex model for eye colour prediction based on 6 SNPs, the previous HIrisPlex model for hair colour prediction based on 22 SNPs, and the recently introduced HIrisPlex-S model for skin colour prediction based on 36 SNPs. In the forensic developmental validation testing, the novel 17-plex assay performed in full agreement with the Scientific Working Group on DNA Analysis Methods (SWGDAM) guidelines, as previously shown for the 24-plex assay. Sensitivity testing of the 17-plex assay revealed complete SNP profiles from as little as 63 pg of input DNA, equalling the previously demonstrated sensitivity threshold of the 24-plex HIrisPlex assay. Testing of simulated forensic casework samples such as blood, semen, saliva stains, of inhibited DNA samples, of low quantity touch (trace) DNA samples, and of artificially degraded DNA samples as well as concordance testing, demonstrated the robustness, efficiency, and forensic suitability of the new 17-plex assay, as previously shown for the 24-plex assay. Finally, we provide an update to the publically available HIrisPlex website, now allowing the estimation of individual probabilities for 3 eye, 4 hair, and 5 skin colour categories from HIrisPlex-S input genotypes. The HIrisPlex-S DNA test represents the first forensically validated tool for skin colour prediction, and reflects the first forensically validated tool for simultaneous eye, hair and skin colour prediction from DNA.

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Forensic Science International: Genetics
Department of Genetic Identification

Chaitanya, L., Breslin, K. (Krystal), Zuniga, S., Wirken, L., Pośpiech, E., Kukla-Bartoszek, M. (Magdalena), … Walsh, S. (2018). The HIrisPlex-S system for eye, hair and skin colour prediction from DNA: Introduction and forensic developmental validation. Forensic Science International: Genetics, 35, 123–135. doi:10.1016/j.fsigen.2018.04.004