Spermatozoa identification by the 3-plex MSRE-PCR assay: a collaborative exercise

Kuo Lan Liu, Li Chin Tsai, Yu Chih Lin, Yu Hsuan Chang, Nu En Huang, Fang Chin Wu, Chun Yen Lin, Kuo Cheng Huang, Chiang Ho Chen, Tung Ho Hsieh, Lih Jing Yang, James Chun I. Lee, Adrian Linacre, Hsing Mei Hsieh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Identification of semen and spermatozoa is crucial in the forensic investigation of alleged sexual assault cases. In cases of alleged sexual assault where there is a long time gap between the incident and sample collection, or in cases of low sperm count, current methods have limitations of specificity, in the case of presumptive tests for semen, or the problem of recording spermatozoa by microscopy if they are few in number. A 3-plex MSRE-PCR (methylation-sensitive restriction enzyme-PCR) assay using a spermatozoa-specific DNA methylated marker to identify spermatozoa has been reported previously by our laboratory. A key advantage over current methods is the increased sensitivity and specificity. A transition from a research tool to operational use requires blind trial testing and inter-laboratory trials. We report on a collaborative exercise where reagents of the 3-plex MSRE-PCR were sent to six participating laboratories. Each laboratory used their own equipment, consumables, and the presumptive reagents conventionally for body fluid (such as acid phosphatase or PSA), DNA extraction, and quantification in practical casework. The reagents and protocol for the 3-plex MSRE-PCR assay and 9 samples were provided by the organizing laboratory. The participating laboratories were requested to fill in the questionnaire after testing. The reported results from all the six participating laboratories were concordant and the expected correct results for the presence of spermatozoa. These outcomes verified the reproducibility and feasibility of the 3-plex MSRE-PCR assay. The results also indicated that the 3-plex MSRE-PCR assay was readily accessible to forensic laboratories for integrating it into current forensic casework processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)397-404
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Legal Medicine
Issue number2
Early online date31 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022


  • 3-plex MSRE-PCR
  • Collaborative exercise
  • Sexual assault
  • Spermatozoa identification


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