• aging;
  • Drosophila;
  • insulin/IGF signalling;
  • life span;
  • mortality


The insulin/insulin growth factor (IGF)-like signaling (IIS) pathway has a conserved role in regulating lifespan in Caenorhabditis elegans, Drosophila and mice. Extension of lifespan by reduced IIS has been shown in C. elegans to require the key IIS target, forkhead box class O (FOXO) transcription factor, DAF-16. dFOXO, the Drosophila DAF-16 orthologue, is also an IIS target, and its overexpression in adult fat body increases lifespan. In C. elegans, IIS acts exclusively during adulthood to determine adult survival. We show here, using an inducible overexpression system, that in Drosophila continuous dFOXO overexpression in adult fat body reduces mortality rate throughout adulthood. We switched the IIS status of the flies at different adult ages and examined the effects of these switches on dFOXO expression and mortality rates. dFOXO protein levels were switched up or down by the inducible expression system at all ages examined. If IIS status is reversed early in adulthood, similar to the effects of another intervention that reduces adult mortality in Drosophila, dietary restriction (DR), there is a complete switch of subsequent mortality rate to that of flies chronically exposed to the new IIS regime. At this age, IIS thus acts acutely to determine risk of death. Mortality rates continued to respond to a switch in IIS status up to 4 weeks of adult age, but not thereafter. However, unlike DR, as IIS status was altered at progressively later ages, mortality rates showed incomplete switching and responded with progressively smaller changes. These findings indicate that alteration of expression levels of dFOXO may have declining effects on IIS status with age, that there could be some process that prevents or lessens the physiological response to a switch in IIS status or that, unlike DR, this pathway regulates aging-related damage. The decreased mortality and increased lifespan of dFOXO overexpressing flies was uncoupled from any effect on female fecundity and from expression levels of Drosophila insulin-like peptides in the brain.