The highly conserved target-of-rapamycin (TOR) protein kinases control cell growth in response to nutrients and growth factors. In mammals, TOR has been shown to interact with raptor to relay nutrient signals to downstream translation machinery. We report that in C. elegans , mutations in the genes encoding CeTOR and raptor result in dauer-like larval arrest, implying that CeTOR regulates dauer diapause. The daf-15 (raptor) and let-363 (CeTOR) mutants shift metabolism to accumulate fat, and raptor mutations extend adult life span. daf-15 transcription is regulated by DAF-16, a FOXO transcription factor that is in turn regulated by daf-2 insulin/IGF signaling. This is a new mechanism that regulates the TOR pathway. Thus, DAF-2 insulin/IGF signaling and nutrient signaling converge on DAF-15 (raptor) to regulate C. elegans larval development, metabolism and life span.
The daf-9 gene functions to integrate transforming growth factor-β and insulin-like signaling pathways to regulate Caenorhabditis elegans larval development. Mutations in daf-9 result in transient dauer-like larval arrest, abnormal reproductive development, molting defects and increased adult longevity. The phenotype is sterol-dependent, and dependent on the activity of DAF-12, a nuclear hormone receptor. Genetic tests show that daf-9 is upstream of daf-12 in the genetic pathways for larval development and adult longevity. daf-9 encodes a cytochrome P450 related to those involved in biosynthesis of steroid hormones in mammals. We propose that it specifies a step in the biosynthetic pathway for a DAF-12 ligand, which might be a steroid. The surprising cellular specificity of daf-9 expression (predominantly in two sensory neurons) supports a previously unrecognized role for these cells in neuroendocrine control of larval development, reproduction and life span.