DNA methylation can be useful for forensic scientists because it can be used to differentiate between the DNA of identical twins, determine the age of a contributor of a DNA sample, and help us understand the actions and tendencies of violent criminals. Research shows that DNA methylation changes over time and can be caused by traumatic events, suggesting that methylation increases with age. Prior studies of DNA methylation at the promoters of the EDARADD, TOM1L1, and NPTX2 genes have been able to predict age within 5.2 years and a study of the ASPA, EDARADD, PDE4C, and ELOVL2 genes predicted age within 4-6 years. Research also shows that DNA methylation can be passed down from parents to offspring, possibly explaining the cycles of incarceration seen in families. With further research, and a large-scale study combining the DNA methylation information from these six genes, forensic scientists could use this technology to predict the age of an individual within three years using only their DNA sample.
Dr. Julia Halo
First Advisor Department
Dr. Travis Worst
Second Advisor Department
Faunce, Reagan, "Epigenetics in Forensic Science" (2023). Honors Projects. 892.