Spectrin, alpha-actinin, and dystrophin

Adv Protein Chem. 2005;70:203-46. doi: 10.1016/S0065-3233(05)70007-3.


Spectrin family proteins represent an important group of actin-bundling and membrane-anchoring proteins found in diverse structures from yeast to man. Arising from a common ancestral alpha-actinin gene through duplications and rearrangements, the family has increased to include the spectrins and dystrophin/utrophin. The spectrin family is characterized by the presence of spectrin repeats, actin binding domains, and EF hands. With increasing divergence, new domains and functions have been added such that spectrin and dystrophin also contain specialized protein-protein interaction motifs and regions for interaction with membranes and phospholipids. The acquisition of new domains also increased the functional complexity of the family such that the proteins perform a range of tasks way beyond the simple bundling of actin filaments by alpha-actinin in S. pombe. We discuss the evolutionary, structural, functional, and regulatory roles of the spectrin family of proteins and describe some of the disease traits associated with loss of spectrin family protein function.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Actinin / chemistry*
  • Actinin / physiology
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Dystrophin / chemistry*
  • Dystrophin / physiology
  • Genetic Diseases, Inborn / genetics
  • Genetic Diseases, Inborn / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Protein Binding
  • Spectrin / chemistry*
  • Spectrin / physiology


  • Dystrophin
  • Actinin
  • Spectrin