Author(s): Katewa SD, Kapahi P
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Abstract Extensive studies in model organisms in the last few decades have revealed that aging is subject to profound genetic influence. The conserved nutrient sensing TOR (Target of Rapamycin) pathway is emerging as a key regulator of lifespan and healthspan in various species from yeast to mammals. The TOR signaling pathway plays a critical role in determining how a eukaryotic cell or a cellular system co-ordinates its growth, development and aging in response to constant changes in its surrounding environment? TOR integrates signals originating from changes in growth factors, nutrient availability, energy status and various physiological stresses. Each of these inputs is specialized to sense particular signal(s), and conveys it to the TOR complex which in turn relays the signal to downstream outputs to appropriately respond to the environmental changes. These outputs include mRNA translation, autophagy, transcription, metabolism, cell survival, proliferation and growth amongst a number of other cellular processes, some of which influence organismal lifespan. Here we review the contribution of the model organism Drosophila in the understanding of TOR signaling and the various biological processes it modulates that may impact on aging. Drosophila was the first organism where the nutrient dependent effects of the TOR pathway on lifespan were first uncovered. We also discuss how the nutrient-sensing TOR pathway appears to be critically important for mediating the longevity effects of dietary restriction (DR), a potent environmental method of lifespan extension by nutrient limitation. Identifying the molecular mechanisms that modulate lifespan downstream of TOR is being intensely investigated and there is hope that these are likely to serve as potential targets for amelioration of age-related diseases and enhance healthful lifespan extension in humans. Copyright © 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
This article was published in Exp Gerontol
and referenced in Journal of Cancer Science & Therapy