The present status of erythrocyte spectrin structure: the 106-residue repetitive structure is a basic feature of an entire class of proteins

J Cell Biochem. 1986;30(3):245-58. doi: 10.1002/jcb.240300306.


Spectrin, the major component of the erythroid membrane skeleton, is a long, asymmetrical rodlike protein that interacts with several other proteins to form a two-dimensional membrane skeleton. Progress in several laboratories over the past few years including substantial partial peptide and nucleotide sequence determination has greatly enhanced our knowledge of the structural properties of this large molecule (heterodimer = 465,000 daltons). The alpha and beta subunits are homologous with approximately 30% identity. They are aligned in an antiparallel side-to-side orientation with the amino- and carboxy-termini near opposite physical ends of the molecule. The predominant structural feature elucidated from sequencing this large molecule is the nearly universal occurrence in both subunits of a single type of repetitive structure. The periodicity of this homologous structure is exactly 106 amino acid residues. As many as 36 homologous, but nonidentical, repeats exist and comprise more than 90% of the mass of the heterodimer. Each of these repetitive units is folded into a triple-stranded structure that is highly helical. Peptide maps, antibody crossreactivity, peptide sequence analysis, and more recently nucleic acid sequences have defined several major properties of the erythroid molecule and related proteins in other tissues. Tissue-specific spectrins have the same 106-residue repetitive structure and show sequence homology to erythroid spectrin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence*
  • Biological Evolution
  • Erythrocyte Membrane / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Weight
  • Protein Conformation
  • Repetitive Sequences, Nucleic Acid
  • Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid
  • Spectrin / analysis*
  • Spectrin / genetics


  • Spectrin