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Cuadernos de Medicina Forense

On-line version ISSN 1988-611XPrint version ISSN 1135-7606


CRESPILLO, M. et al. Spanish Civil War (1936-1939): identification of human remains from mass graves in Catalonia using mitochondrial DNA analysis. A case report. Cuad. med. forense [online]. 2004, n.38, pp.37-46. ISSN 1988-611X.

The identification of missing people during the Spanish civil war has become a subject of social interest. The present work describes the identification of the first corpse from a mass grave exhumed in Catalonia. As confirmatory technique to the classic methodology used in the identification of human skeletal remains (anthropometrics, dental charts...) forensic science finds in the DNA analysis an useful tool. The identification was carried out analyzing the control region of mitochondrial DNA due to the antiquity of the human remains (approximately 65 years) and because the only available sample of reference came from a distant maternal relative (niece). The sequencing products were analyzed using the genetic analyzer ABI PRISM 310 (AB). After fulfilling all the requirements of acceptance of the sequences and eliminated the possible presence of contaminations, a match was observed between the mtDNA sequences obtained for both samples, femur and the sample of reference contributed by the relative. The obtained sequence was 16298C, 263G, 315.1C and only one ocurrence of this sequence was observed in a database of 2192 Caucasian individuals (frequency 0,0013). The obtained results support the fact that when conventional nuclear DNA typing is not possible the analysis of mtDNA becomes an useful and powerful tool.

Keywords : Mitochondrial DNA; PCR; Human Remains; Forensic Medicine; Spanish Civil War; Identification.

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