Researchers report a method for determining the sex of human remains using tooth enamel. Determining the sex of human remains has applications in archaeological and legal contexts, among others. DNA sequencing can be used for sex determination, but the approach is often expensive, time-consuming, and depends on the quality of the DNA sample. Nicolas Andre Stewart and colleagues developed a method for determining the sex of human remains using peptides from tooth enamel, a durable human body tissue. To extract peptides from tooth enamel, the method uses a minimally destructive acid-etch procedure. Sex chromosome-linked isoforms of amelogenin--an enamel-forming protein--are identified from the acid-etch sample using nanoflow liquid chromatography mass spectrometry. The authors tested the method on the remains of seven adult individuals from the late 19th century as well as male and female pairs from three archaeological sites ranging from 5,700 years ago to the 16th century in the United Kingdom. In each context, the method successfully determined the sex of the individuals, as confirmed by comparison with coffin plates or standard osteological analyses. According to the authors, the method might help improve techniques for sex determination of human remains, with potential applications in bioarcheaology and medical-legal science.
This article has been republished from materials provided by PNAS. Note: material may have been edited for length and content. For further information, please contact the cited source.
Sex determination of human remains from peptides in tooth enamel. Raquel Gerlach, Rebecca Gowland, Kurt Gron, and Janet Montgomery. PNAS 2017 ; published ahead of print December 11, 2017, doi:10.1073/pnas.1714926115.