Lessons from C. elegans: signaling pathways for longevity

Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2012 Dec;23(12):637-44. doi: 10.1016/j.tem.2012.07.007. Epub 2012 Aug 30.


Recent research using model organisms such as the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans has highlighted a crucial role for several conserved signaling pathways in longevity determination. Here, we review three major endocrine- and nutrient-sensing signaling pathways with influence on lifespan, the insulin/insulin-like growth factor (IGF), target of rapamycin (TOR), and germline signaling pathways. Although these pathways engage distinct sets of transcription factors, the three pathways appear to modulate aging in C. elegans through partially overlapping effector mechanisms, including lipid metabolism and autophagy. This review highlights the latest advances in our understanding of how the insulin/IGF-1, TOR, and germline signaling pathways utilize different transcription factors to modulate aging in C. elegans with special emphasis on the role of lipid metabolism and autophagy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinases / physiology
  • Aging
  • Animals
  • Autophagy / physiology
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / metabolism
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / physiology*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / metabolism*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / physiology
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors
  • Germ-Line Mutation / physiology
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / metabolism*
  • Longevity
  • Signal Transduction
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism*
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / physiology


  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors
  • Transcription Factors
  • daf-16 protein, C elegans
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinases