The inner mitochondrial membrane (IM) is among the most protein-rich cellular compartments. The metastable IM subproteome where the concentration of proteins is approaching oversaturation creates a challenging protein folding environment with a high probability of protein malfunction or aggregation. Failure to maintain protein homeostasis in such a setting can impair the functional integrity of the mitochondria and drive clinical manifestations. The IM is equipped with a series of highly conserved, proteolytic complexes dedicated to the maintenance of normal protein homeostasis within this mitochondrial subcompartment. Particularly important is a group of membrane-anchored metallopeptidases commonly known as m-AAA and i-AAA proteases, and the ATP-independent Oma1 protease. Herein, we will summarize the current biochemical knowledge of these proteolytic machines and discuss recent advances in our understanding of mechanistic aspects of their functioning.
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