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Friday, June 1 • 3:30pm - 4:00pm
40. (Book and Paper) Extraction and Analysis of DNA from Renaissance-Style Prepared Paper

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Our overall goal is to test the hypothesis that biological material, including ancient DNA, can be extracted from 500-plus-year-old Renaissance artworks such as written folios and metalpoint drawings. We report here the preliminary results of a multidisciplinary technical and scientific research study where samples of modern “prepared” paper were analyzed. An IRB-approved human subjects protocol was initiated to allow us to collect saliva samples. The saliva samples were then used to fabricate prepared paper samples according to Cennini’s original description of methods (Broecke, L., “Cennino Cennini’s Il Libro dell’Arte: A New English Translation and Commentary with Italian Transcription”, London: Archetype Publications, Ltd., 2015). We then developed techniques to extract DNA from homogeneous samples of the prepared paper. Using real-time quantitative PCR (polymerase chain reaction, RT q-PCR), we measured the sensitivity of the extraction methods and determined whether the DNA that can be extracted is suitable for DNA sequencing. We determined that DNA from the cells in human saliva used to prepare paper could be extracted quantitatively from various paper types, and that the DNA can be amplified and detected using RT q-PCR. From a 1.2-mm “punch biopsy” we achieved the theoretical detection limit of 6 picograms of DNA, which corresponds to the amount of DNA in one human epithelial cell. On average, the DNA yield from a punch biopsy from the prepared paper is the equivalent of about 7 cells. We have begun to test aged specimens and will further study the inhibitory effects of metalpoint media, paints, resins, glues, waxes, etc. to human DNA testing. We will also employ single-cell Next-Generation sequencing (NGS) in order to obtain genomes from DNA extracted from the paper samples. In summary, we report preliminary results that provide a basis for developing a minimally-invasive method to analyze artworks, such as drawings on Renaissance-prepared paper. The methods we develop are applicable to studies of authentic artworks and paper documents from various periods. Conservation scientists using UV, XRF and X-ray technologies to study artworks should consider that under certain conditions, UV light and X-rays damage DNA, thereby forever removing the possibility of extracting artists’ DNA and other biological information from works on paper or other substrates.

avatar for Manija Kazmi

Manija Kazmi

Research Specialist, Rockefeller University
Manija A. Kazmi, M.S. is a research specialist in the Laboratory of Chemical Biology & Signal Transduction at the Rockefeller University in New York. She received her M.S. in molecular biology from New York University and has extensive experience in molecular cloning and recombinant... Read More →
avatar for Thomas P. Sakmar

Thomas P. Sakmar

Richard M. & Isabel P. Furlaud Professor, Rockefeller University
Thomas P. Sakmar, M.D. is a physician-scientist and the Richard M. & Isabel P. Furlaud Professor and Head of the Laboratory of Chemical Biology & Signal Transduction at The Rockefeller University in New York. He is also a guest professor at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. Dr... Read More →
avatar for Karina C. Åberg

Karina C. Åberg

Artist-in-Residence/Guest Investigator, Rockefeller University
Karina Åberg is a member of The Leonardo da Vinci DNA Project and currently artist-in-residence at The Rockefeller University in New York. In 1988 she received her bachelor of fine arts (BFA) degree in illustration from the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in New York. In 1991 she received... Read More →

avatar for Thomas Huber

Thomas Huber

Research Assistant Professor, Rockefeller University
Thomas Huber, M.D., Ph.D. is a faculty member at the Rockefeller University in New York where he studies chemical and molecular biology of G protein-coupled receptors, an important cell surface protein that serves as a drug target for up to one-third of therapeutic medicines. He was... Read More →
avatar for Rhonda K. Roby

Rhonda K. Roby

Guest Investigator, Rockefeller University
Rhonda K. Roby, Ph.D., M.P.H. is a forensics geneticist with a special interest in DNA detection technology. She received an A.B. in Biology and French from Washington University in St. Louis, an M.P.H. from University of California at Berkeley and a Ph.D. in genetics from Universidad... Read More →

Friday June 1, 2018 3:30pm - 4:00pm MDT
Texas Ballroom (Foyer outside Ballrooms - Poster Session) Marriott Marquis Houston