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Related to DNA profiling: DNA fingerprinting
DNA fingerprinting depends on the detection of distinctive DNA sequences in human cellular material (skin, hair, blood, semen). The principal applications of this technique, all of which are based on the premise that no two people have exactly the same genetic makeup, are in determining paternity and maternity, identifying human remains, and matching biologic material left at a crime scene with that of a suspect. The most distinctive features of a person's genome are not the genes themselves but variations in the length and distribution of nongenetic material between gene loci. Although these do not transmit genetic information, they are highly consistent within the cells of each person and highly variable from one person to another. Distinctive nucleotide sequences that are most useful in DNA fingerprinting are variable number tandem repeats (VNTRs) and short tandem repeats (STRs). In DNA fingerprinting, the specimen is split into nucleotide fragments by treatment with restriction enzymes and then subjected to gel electrophoresis so as to yield a characteristic pattern of banding. Radioactive probes, composed of short nucleotide sequences (10-15 base pairs for VNTRs, 3-4 pairs for STRs), then identify sites of tandem repeats and hybridize with them. Comparing the results from two or more DNA sources reveals their degree of relatedness. The U.S. Crime Act of 1994 and similar laws in other countries have mandated archival storage of DNA fingerprints of those convicted of certain crimes.