The human genome encodes several thousand long non-protein coding transcripts>200 nucleotides in length, a subset of which were shown to play important roles in regulation of gene expression. Researchers at the University of Regensburg, Germany recently identified TINCR, a lncRNA required for induction of key differentiation genes in epidermal tissue, including genes mutated in human skin diseases characterized by disrupted epidermal barrier formation. High-throughput analyses of TINCR RNA- and protein-interactomes revealed TINCR interaction with differentiation mRNAs as well as the Staufen1 protein. TINCR, together with Staufen1, seems to stabilize a subset of mRNAs required for epidermal differentiation. Here, the author discusses the emerging roles of Staufen1 and TINCR in the regulation of mammalian cell differentiation mediated by interaction with target mRNAs. They consider a role for TINCR as an epithelial-specific guide for targeting the Staufen1 protein to specific mRNAs, reflecting the increasing complexity of gene regulatory processes in mammalian cells and tissue.
Kretz M. (2013) TINCR, staufen1, and cellular differentiation. RNA Biol [Epub ahead of print]. [abstract]