Biological responses due to nutrient deprivation in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, including L1 diapause and autophagy during dauer formation, can be mediated through the linked DAF-2/insulin/IGF receptor and target-of-rapamycin (TOR) kinase pathways. Here we discuss how altered insulin/TOR signaling may underlie the previously reported phenotypes of worms with a null mutation in the pcm-1
gene that results in reduced autophagy during dauer formation and decreased L1 arrest survival. PCM-1 encodes a protein repair methyltransferase and mutants of the encoding pcm-1
gene are incapable of converting spontaneously damaged l-isoaspartyl residues in cellular proteins to normal forms by this pathway. We speculate that PCM-1 may function either directly or indirectly as an inhibitor of insulin/TOR signaling, perhaps in a role to balance autophagy with alternative protein degradation pathways that may be more specific for recognizing age-damaged proteins.