Target of rapamycin (TOR) is an evolutionarily conserved nutrient-sensing protein kinase that regulates growth and metabolism in all eukaryotic cells. Studies in flies, worms, yeast, and mice support the notion that the TOR signaling network modulates aging. TOR is also emerging as a robust mediator of the protective effects of various forms of dietary restriction (DR), which can extend life span and slow the onset of certain age-related diseases across species. Here we discuss how modulating TOR signaling slows aging through downstream processes including mRNA translation, autophagy, endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress signaling, stress responses, and metabolism. Identifying the mechanisms by which the TOR signaling network works as a pacemaker of aging is a major challenge and may help identify potential drug targets for age-related diseases, thereby facilitating healthful life span extension in humans.
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