Date of Award

Fall 1-4-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Forensic Science



First Advisor or Mentor

Lissette Delgado-Cruzata

Second Reader

Mechtild Prinz

Third Advisor

Neomi Vin-Raviv


DNA methylation is a type of epigenetic modification that impacts gene expression without disturbing the genetic nucleotide sequence. DNA methylation has the potential to be included in the daily forensic analysis because among other uses, it has the potential to be applied to discrimination of monozygotic (MZ) twins that currently cannot be differentiated via forensic DNA profiling. In previous research, our group showed that DNA methylation at the cg18562578 site in chromosome 3 could be used to discriminate MZ twins. Because studies have shown that DNA methylation measures can be influenced by demographic factors such as sex and age; here, we investigated whether these demographic factors impacted the MZ discrimination power of this marker. We analyzed data on DNA methylation levels at cg18562578 for a population of 96 MZ and 54 dizygotic twin pairs. We found that age and sex were not associated with DNA methylation at cg18562578. We also found that MZ twin differences remained statistically significant when age and sex were considered. Results from these analyses suggest that sex and age do not impact the MZ discrimination ability of cg18562578 DNA methylation. This provides further support to the use of cg18562578 DNA methylation in the discrimination of MZ twins.


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