Chu, F., et al. Hair Proteome Variation at Different Body Locations on Genetically Variant Peptide Detection for Protein-Based Human Identification, Scientific reports. Volume 9, Number 1, 7641
Human hair contains minimal intact nuclear DNA for human identification in forensic and archaeological applications. In contrast, proteins offer a pathway to exploit hair evidence for human identification owing to their persistence, abundance, and derivation from DNA. Individualizing single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) are often conserved as single amino acid polymorphisms in genetically variant peptides (GVPs). Detection of GVP markers in the hair proteome via high-resolution tandem mass spectrometry permits inference of SNPs with known statistical probabilities. To adopt this approach for forensic investigations, hair proteomic variation and its effects on GVP identification must first be characterized. This research aimed to assess variation in single-inch head, arm, and pubic hair, and discover body location-invariant GVP markers to distinguish individuals. Comparison of protein profiles revealed greater body location-specific variation in keratin-associated proteins and intracellular proteins, allowing body location differentiation. However, robust GVP markers derive primarily from keratins that do not exhibit body location-specific differential expression, supporting GVP identification independence from hair proteomic variation at the various body locations. Further, pairwise comparisons of GVP profiles with 8 SNPs demonstrated greatest interindividual variation and high intraindividual consistency, enabling similar differentiative potential of individuals using single hairs irrespective of body location origin.