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FAQs — Other DNA Tests

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  1. What if the alleged father is missing or deceased? Can we still do a paternity test?
  2. Can I preserve a DNA sample in the event it is needed to settle my estate in the future?
  3. What is DNA banking?
  4. What is DNA profiling?
  5. Can you test samples from a deceased individual?
  6. What are grandparentage tests and how are they used?
  7. What are siblingship tests and how are they used?
  8. How is DNA used to determine maternal or paternal lineage?

 

1. What if the alleged father is missing or deceased? Can we still do a paternity test?

Several DNA testing options are available if the father is missing or deceased: viability test, grandparentage, and genetic reconstruction.

If an alleged father is deceased, we might be able to use some biological samples, such as a preserved tissue sample from a coroner’s office. We need to first perform a viability test to determine if there is enough useful DNA in the sample. If enough useful DNA is present, we can use this sample and proceed with the standard paternity test. Please call us at 1-888-362-2592 to discuss this possibility with an experienced case manager.

If no biological samples from the father are available, we can look at close family members to determine if a child belongs to that family. A grandparentage test is the first option to try. The following persons must be tested:

  • Paternal grandmother (Alleged father’s mother)
  • Paternal grandfather (Alleged father’s father)
  • Child
  • Child’s mother

If the paternal grandparents are not both available, the next option is a genetic reconstruction. At least two close relatives of the alleged father are needed to participate in this test. A close relative is a full brother/sister and/or a biological parent of the deceased/missing alleged father. In addition, the mother and child must participate. The result of this test will show the probability that the child is related to the tested parties.

Please call our case managers at 1-888-362-2592 to determine which test will best help you answer your paternity question.

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2. Can I preserve a DNA sample in the event it is needed to settle my estate in the future?

We offer DNA banking services—we store a sample of your DNA in case it is needed to settle your estate in the future, or for other personal security reasons. We can use your stored DNA to create a DNA profile that can then be compared with those of your alleged heirs to prove biological relationships.

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3. What is DNA banking?

We offer DNA banking services to safely store your DNA samples in our laboratory for 15 years or more. Stored DNA can be used in the identification of missing children and other family members. It also can be used in legal cases, such as inheritance disputes, to prove family relationships.

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4. What is DNA profiling?

In DNA profiling, we run a DNA test on a person’s DNA sample using the 13 FBI CODIS probe loci. In this process, we determine the sizes of specific locations on the DNA, called loci. These are the same loci that the FBI uses to identify persons involved in their investigations.

There are two copies of each locus in your DNA, one inherited from your father and one inherited from your mother. Each copy is called an allele. When your test is completed, you will receive a certificate listing the allele sizes that you inherit from your parents. This is your DNA profile.

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5. Can you test samples from a deceased individual?

If a preserved tissue sample from a deceased individual is available, we may be able to use it to perform a DNA test. We’ll need to first conduct a viability test to determine if there is enough useful DNA in the tissue sample.

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6. What are grandparentage tests and how are they used?

A grandparentage test is a test performed on a child and his/her paternal or maternal grandparents. Most often, a child is tested with his/her paternal grandparents to provide evidence for Social Security benefits when the father is missing or deceased. The mother is encouraged to participate in this test; a motherless test requires extended testing and is more costly. A child may also be tested with the maternal grandparents if they want to find out if he/she is related through the mother (who might be missing or deceased). In this case, the father is encouraged to participate in the test.

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7. What are siblingship tests and how are they used?

Siblingship tests determine the probability that two individuals are either half or full siblings.

In a full siblingship study, the siblings already know that they have the same mother, and they want to find out if they have the same father. The mother is highly encouraged to participate, because analysis is difficult and more costly in motherless cases.

In a half siblingship study, a mother and child is tested with another mother and child to determine if the children share the same father (i.e., they are half siblings). Although participation of the mothers is encouraged, we can perform the test with only the siblings.

8. How is DNA used to determine maternal or paternal lineage?

In our cells, DNA is found either in the nucleus (nuclear DNA) or in the mitochondria (mitochondrial DNA). Mitochondrial DNA is inherited solely from the mother. Every child (male or female) has an exact copy of his/her mother’s mitochondrial DNA. We can compare mitochondrial DNA from different individuals to see if they share a maternal lineage.

To determine paternal lineage, we test the Y chromosome. In the nucleus, DNA—a long, string-like molecule—is packaged into 46 chromosomes. Two of these chromosomes determine whether a person is male or female: females have two X chromosomes, and males have one X and one Y chromosome. DNA on the Y chromosome is inherited from the father. Therefore, we can perform a Y chromosome test (called a Y-STR test) to create a Y-DNA profile. All males who share the same paternal lineage would be expected to have the same Y-DNA profile.

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