Identification of tetragametic human chimerism by routine DNA profiling


Chimerism in humans is defined as the presence of two genetically different cell lines within the same organism. It is usually an acquired condition that is restricted to certain tissues and can be explained by therapeutic interventions such as blood transfusion or the transplantation of allogenic hematopoietic cells. Implications of such patients for forensic DNA testing have been described in the literature. In some rare cases, true inherited chimerism is observed. This so called tetragametic chimerism occurs via the fertilization of the two ova by two spermatozoa, followed by the fusion of early embryos and the development of an organism with intermingled cell lines. Such examples have been found in mice and other mammalian species including humans. We describe a phenotypically normal woman in whom tetragametic chimerism (46,XX/46,XX) was unexpectedly identified by STR typing during routine DNA profiling. Cytogenetic analysis proved to be a valuable tool for both independent confirmation and direct visualization of the two coexisting cell lines.

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Correspondence to Jindřich Novotný.

Electronic supplementary material

Fig. S1

Comparison of buccal samples and blood samples. Details from the System VWA and FGA are shown. Note the differences in the height of the allele signals suggesting the different ratio of both “contributor” genotypes in the proband’s two cell lines. Upper part, buccal sample; lower part, blood sample. (PPTX 389 kb)

Fig. S2

Plucked hair root showing a single STR genotype. (PPTX 232 kb)

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Novotný, J., Lotz, P., Müller, S. et al. Identification of tetragametic human chimerism by routine DNA profiling. Int J Legal Med 133, 989–992 (2019).

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  • Tetragametic chimerism
  • STR analysis
  • Cytogenetic analysis
  • DNA profiling