Publications -- Jennifer Churchill Cihlar

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This collection is limited to articles published under the terms of a creative commons license or other open access publishing agreement since 2016. It is not intended as a complete list of the author's works.


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    A Continuous Statistical Phasing Framework for the Analysis of Forensic Mitochondrial DNA Mixtures
    (MDPI, 2021-01-20) Smart, Utpal; Cihlar, Jennifer Churchill; Mandape, Sammed N.; Muenzler, Melissa; King, Jonathan L.; Budowle, Bruce; Woerner, August E.
    Despite the benefits of quantitative data generated by massively parallel sequencing, resolving mitotypes from mixtures occurring in certain ratios remains challenging. In this study, a bioinformatic mixture deconvolution method centered on population-based phasing was developed and validated. The method was first tested on 270 in silico two-person mixtures varying in mixture proportions. An assortment of external reference panels containing information on haplotypic variation (from similar and different haplogroups) was leveraged to assess the effect of panel composition on phasing accuracy. Building on these simulations, mitochondrial genomes from the Human Mitochondrial DataBase were sourced to populate the panels and key parameter values were identified by deconvolving an additional 7290 in silico two-person mixtures. Finally, employing an optimized reference panel and phasing parameters, the approach was validated with in vitro two-person mixtures with differing proportions. Deconvolution was most accurate when the haplotypes in the mixture were similar to haplotypes present in the reference panel and when the mixture ratios were neither highly imbalanced nor subequal (e.g., 4:1). Overall, errors in haplotype estimation were largely bounded by the accuracy of the mixture's genotype results. The proposed framework is the first available approach that automates the reconstruction of complete individual mitotypes from mixtures, even in ratios that have traditionally been considered problematic.
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    Developmental Validation of a MPS Workflow with a PCR-Based Short Amplicon Whole Mitochondrial Genome Panel
    (MDPI, 2020-11-13) Cihlar, Jennifer Churchill; Amory, Christina; Lagace, Robert; Roth, Chantal; Parson, Walther; Budowle, Bruce
    For the adoption of massively parallel sequencing (MPS) systems by forensic laboratories, validation studies on specific workflows are needed to support the feasibility of implementation and the reliability of the data they produce. As such, the whole mitochondrial genome sequencing methodology-Precision ID mtDNA Whole Genome Panel, Ion Chef, Ion S5, and Converge-has been subjected to a variety of developmental validation studies. These validation studies were completed in accordance with the Scientific Working Group on DNA Analysis Methods (SWGDAM) validation guidelines and assessed reproducibility, repeatability, accuracy, sensitivity, specificity to human DNA, and ability to analyze challenging (e.g., mixed, degraded, or low quantity) samples. Intra- and inter-run replicates produced an average maximum pairwise difference in variant frequency of 1.2%. Concordance with data generated with traditional Sanger sequencing and an orthogonal MPS platform methodology was used to assess accuracy, and generation of complete and concordant haplotypes at DNA input levels as low as 37.5 pg of nuclear DNA or 187.5 mitochondrial genome copies illustrated the sensitivity of the system. Overall, data presented herein demonstrate that highly accurate and reproducible results were generated for a variety of sample qualities and quantities, supporting the reliability of this specific whole genome mitochondrial DNA MPS system for analysis of forensic biological evidence.