Mol. Cells 2017; 40(6): 410~417
Cell Death-Associated Ribosomal RNA Cleavage in Postmortem Tissues and Its Forensic Applications
Ji Yeon Kim1,2,4, Yunmi Kim1,2,4, Hyo Kyeong Cha1,2,4, Hye Young Lim1,2, Hyungsub Kim1, Sooyoung Chung3, Juck-Joon Hwang1, Seong Hwan Park1, and Gi Hoon Son1,2,*
1Department of Legal Medicine, 2Department of Biomedical Sciences, College of Medicine, Korea University, Seoul 02841, Korea, 3Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Scranton College, Ewha Womans University, Seoul 03760, Korea, 4These authors contributed equally to this work.
Received March 16, 2017; Revised April 24, 2017; Accepted May 12, 2017.; Published online June 15, 2017.
© Korean Society for Molecular and Cellular Biology. All rights reserved.

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Estimation of postmortem interval (PMI) is a key issue in the field of forensic pathology. With the availability of quantitative analysis of RNA levels in postmortem tissues, several studies have assessed the postmortem degradation of constitutively expressed RNA species to estimate PMI. However, conventional RNA quantification as well as biochemical and physiological changes employed thus far have limitations related to standardization or normalization. The present study focuses on an interesting feature of the subdomains of certain RNA species, in which they are site-specifically cleaved during apoptotic cell death. We found that the D8 divergent domain of ribosomal RNA (rRNA) bearing cell death-related cleavage sites was rapidly removed during postmortem RNA degradation. In contrast to the fragile domain, the 5 terminal region of 28S rRNA was remarkably stable during the postmortem period. Importantly, the differences in the degradation rates between the two domains in mammalian 28S rRNA were highly proportional to increasing PMI with a significant linear correlation observed in mice as well as human autopsy tissues. In conclusion, we demonstrate that comparison of the degradation rates between domains of a single RNA species provides quantitative information on postmortem degradation states, which can be applied for the estimation of PMI.
Keywords: 28S ribosomal RNA (rRNA), cell death-associated
RNA cleavage, postmortem interval (PMI), RNA degradation

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30 June 2017 Volume 40,
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