Identification of skeletal remains of Communist Armed Forces victims during and after World War II: Combined Y-chromosome short tandem repeat (STR) and miniSTR approach

Damir Marjanović, Adaleta Durmić-Pašić, Lejla Kovačević, Jasna Avdić, Mirela Džehverović, Sanin Haverić, Jasmin Ramić, Belma Kalamujić, Lada Lukić Bilela, Vedrana Škaro, Petar Projić, Kasim Bajrović, Katja Drobnič, Jon Davoren, Dragan Primorac

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32 Scopus citations


Aim To report on the use of STR, Y-STRs, and miniSTRs typing methods in the identification of victims of revolutionary violence and crimes against humanity committed by the Communist Armed Forces during and after World War II in which bodies were exhumed from mass and individual graves in Slovenia. Methods Bone fragments and teeth were removed from human remains found in several small and closely located hidden mass graves in the Škofja Loka area (Lovrenska Grapa and Žolšče) and 2 individua graves in the Ljubljana area (Podlipoglav), Slovenia. DNA was isolated using the Qiagen DNA extraction procedure optimized for bone and teeth. Some DNA extracts required additional purification, such as N-buthanol treatment. The Quantifiler Human DNA Quantification Kit was used for DNA quantification. Initially, PowerPlex 16 kit was used to simultaneously analyze 15 short tandem repeat (STR) loci. The PowerPlex S5 miniSTR kit and AmpFℓSTR® MiniFiler PCR Amplification Kit was used for additional analysis if preliminary analysis yielded weak partial or no profiles at all. In 2 cases, when the PowerPlex 16 profiles indicated possible relatedness of the remains with reference samples, but there were insufficient probabilities to call the match to possible male paternal relatives, we resorted to an additional analysis of Y-STR markers. PowerPlex® Y System was used to simultaneously amplify 12 Y-STR loci. Fragment analysis was performed on an ABI PRISM 310 genetic analyzer. Matching probabilities were estimated using the DNA-View software. Results Following the Y-STR analysis, 1 of the "weak matches" previously obtained based on autosomal loci, was confirmed while the other 1 was not. Combined standard STR and miniSTR approach applied to bone samples from 2 individual graves resulted in positive identifications. Finally, using the same approach on 11 bone samples from hidden mass grave Žološče, we were able to obtain 6 useful DNA profiles. Conclusion The results of this study, in combination with previously obtained results, demonstrate that Y-chromosome testing and mini-STR methodology can contribute to the identification of human remains of victims of revolutionary violence from World War II.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)296-304
Number of pages9
JournalCroatian Medical Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine(all)


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