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What is DNA Fingerprinting?

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DNA Fingerprinting, method of identification that compares fragments of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) It is sometimes called DNA typing. DNA is the genetic material found within the cell nuclei of all living things. In mammals the strands of DNA are grouped into structures called chromosomes. With the exception of identical twins, the complete DNA of each individual is unique. These patterns do not, however, give an individual "fingerprint," but they are able to determine whether two DNA samples are from the same person, related people, or non-related people. Scientists use a small number of sequences of DNA that are known to vary among individuals a great deal, and analyze those to get a certain probability of a match. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ A DNA fingerprint is constructed by first extracting a DNA sample from body tissue or fluid such as hair, blood, or saliva. The sample is then segmented using enzymes, and the segments are arranged by size using a process called electrophoresis. The segments are marked with probes and exposed on X-ray film, where they form a characteristic pattern of black bars—the DNA fingerprint. If the DNA fingerprints produced from two different samples match, the two samples probably came from the same person. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ DNA fingerprinting was first developed as an identification technique in 1985. Originally used to detect the presence of genetic diseases, DNA fingerprinting soon came to be used in criminal investigations and forensic science. The first criminal conviction based on DNA evidence in the United States occurred in 1988. In criminal investigations, DNA fingerprints derived from evidence collected at the crime scene are compared to the DNA fingerprints of suspects. The DNA evidence can implicate or exonerate a suspect.