Long-lived proteins (LLPs) have recently emerged as vital components of intracellular structures whose function is coupled to long-term stability. Mitochondria are multifaceted organelles, and their function hinges on efficient proteome renewal and replacement. Here, using metabolic stable isotope labeling of mice combined with mass spectrometry (MS)–based proteomic analysis, we demonstrate remarkable longevity for a subset of the mitochondrial proteome. We discovered that mitochondrial LLPs (mt-LLPs) can persist for months in tissues harboring long-lived cells, such as brain and heart. Our analysis revealed enrichment of mt-LLPs within the inner mitochondrial membrane, specifically in the cristae subcompartment, and demonstrates that the mitochondrial proteome is not turned over in bulk. Pioneering cross-linking experiments revealed that mt-LLPs are spatially restricted and copreserved within protein OXPHOS complexes, with limited subunit exchange throughout their lifetimes. This study provides an explanation for the exceptional mitochondrial protein lifetimes and supports the concept that LLPs provide key structural stability to multiple large and dynamic intracellular structures.

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