Estimation of postmortem interval (PMI) is a key issue in the field of forensic pathology. With the availability of quantitative analysis of RNA levels in postmortem tissues, several studies have assessed the postmortem degradation of constitutively expressed RNA species to estimate PMI. However, conventional RNA quantification as well as biochemical and physiological changes employed thus far have limitations related to standardization or normalization. The present study focuses on an interesting feature of the subdomains of certain RNA species, in which they are site-specifically cleaved during apoptotic cell death. We found that the D8 divergent domain of ribosomal RNA (rRNA) bearing cell death-related cleavage sites was rapidly removed during postmortem RNA degradation. In contrast to the fragile domain, the 5′ terminal region of 28S rRNA was remarkably stable during the postmortem period. Importantly, the differences in the degradation rates between the two domains in mammalian 28S rRNA were highly proportional to increasing PMI with a significant linear correlation observed in mice as well as human autopsy tissues. In conclusion, we demonstrate that comparison of the degradation rates between domains of a single RNA species provides quantitative information on postmortem degradation states, which can be applied for the estimation of PMI.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the Korean Ministry of Science, ICT, and Future Planning through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-2012M3A9C7050135, NRF-2015 M3A9E7029176, NRF-2016M3C7A1904340); the Korean National Police Agency through the Research and Development of Police Science and Technology project (PA-G000001/2016-401); and the Korea University grant program (K1422401). J. Y. Kim, Y. Kim and H. K. Cha were supported by the Brain Korea 21 PLUS program. Editage edited the manuscript.
© The Korean Society for Molecular and Cellular Biology. All rights reserved.
- 28S ribosomal RNA (rRNA)
- Cell death-associated RNA cleavage
- Postmortem interval (PMI)
- RNA degrada