Determining and interpreting protein lifetimes in mammalian tissues

Eugenio F. Fornasiero*, Jeffrey N. Savas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The orchestration of protein production and degradation, and the regulation of protein lifetimes, play a central role in the majority of biological processes. Recent advances in proteomics have enabled the estimation of protein half-lives for thousands of proteins in vivo. What is the utility of these measurements, and how can they be leveraged to interpret the proteome changes occurring during development, aging, and disease? This opinion article summarizes leading technical approaches and highlights their strengths and weaknesses. We also disambiguate frequently used terminology, illustrate recent mechanistic insights, and provide guidance for interpreting and validating protein turnover measurements. Overall, protein lifetimes, coupled to estimates of protein levels, are essential for obtaining a deep understanding of mammalian biology and the basic processes defining life itself.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)106-118
Number of pages13
JournalTrends in Biochemical Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2023


  • long-lived proteins
  • metabolic labeling
  • protein half-life
  • protein turnover
  • proteomics
  • stable isotopes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry


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