What DNA Markers Are Used in Paternity Testing?

Paternity testing, also known as DNA paternity testing, has revolutionized our ability to determine biological relationships with accuracy and reliability. This advanced scientific process uses genetic markers to act as unique signatures since only people with close biological relationships can share the markers.

In this article, we will identify genetic markers, and shed light on their significance in resolving parentage-related questions.

Types of DNA Markers Used in Paternity

1. Short Tandem Repeats (STRS)

Short Tandem Repeats, known as STRS or microsatellites, are the most widely used DNA markers in paternity testing. These regions consist of a short sequence of DNA nucleotides that are repeated several times but they vary among individuals. In turn, this makes them the ideal tool for distinguishing between closely related individuals like a father and child.

2. Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms

Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms ( SNP) are another type of DNA marker utilized in paternity testing. SNPs are single-base pair variations in the DNA sequence. Although less commonly used in paternity tests compared to STRS, they offer conclusive evidence where STR analysis cannot.

3. Amelogenin Gene

Amelogenin is a protein encoded by the AMELEX gene in humans. This gene is significant in paternity tests because it’s found in the X and Y chromosome. This ensures that the correct genetic profiles are compared between the child and the alleged father. To put it into context, the scientists will analyze the DNA samples from the father and the child by comparing the size of the Amelogenin. If they’re similar in size, it means that the parties involved in the test are biologically related.

4. Variable Number Tandem Repeats (VNTRs)

VNTRs are similar to STRs because they’re repetitive sequences in DNA with variable numbers of repeating units. Nevertheless, they were largely used before STRs became more popular due to their high mutation rates.

5. Insertion/ Deletion Polymorphisms (Indels):

Indels are genetic variations caused by the insertion or deletion of one or more base pairs in the DNA sequence. While they’re less used than STRs or NPS, they can still provide valuable information for paternity testing in some cases.

Significance of DNA Markers in Paternity Testing

The combination of DNA markers allows scientists to create a unique genetic profile for the possible father and child. By comparing these profiles, the laboratories can determine whether the child has inherited specific genetic markers from the father. The more markers that match, the stronger the evidence for a biological relationship.

How Accurate Are Paternity Tests That Are Conducted Using DNA Markers?

The accuracy of paternity testing is crucial since it can have significant legal, emotional, and social implications. The good thing is that the use of multiple markers such as STRs, SNPs, and Indels enhances the reliability of the paternity test. This is because it’s very unlikely that two unrelated individuals can have the same DNA profile and multiple markers.


DNA markers play a crucial role in paternity testing by allowing scientists to compare the genetic profiles of the possible father and the child to establish whether there’s a biological relationship. In addition to that, DNA paternity testing methods are becoming more accurate as technology continues to advance.