DAF-16, the only forkhead box transcription factors class O (FoxO) homolog in Caenorhabditis elegans
, integrates signals from upstream pathways to elicit transcriptional changes in many genes involved in aging, development, stress, metabolism, and immunity. The major regulator of DAF-16 activity is the insulin/insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) signaling (IIS) pathway, reduction of which leads to lifespan extension in worms, flies, mice, and humans. In C. elegans daf-2
mutants, reduced IIS leads to a heterochronic activation of a dauer survival program during adulthood. This program includes elevated antioxidant defense and a metabolic shift toward accumulation of carbohydrates (i.e., trehalose and glycogen) and triglycerides, and activation of the glyoxylate shunt, which could allow fat-to-carbohydrate conversion. The longevity of daf-2
mutants seems to be partially supported by endogenous trehalose, a nonreducing disaccharide that mammals cannot synthesize, which points toward considerable differences in downstream mechanisms by which IIS regulates aging in distinct groups.
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