Spectrins are large, evolutionarily well-conserved proteins that form highly organized scaffolds on the inner surface of eukaryotic cells. Their organization in different cell types or cellular compartments helps cells withstand mechanical challenges with unique strategies depending on the cell type. This Review discusses our understanding of the mechanical properties of spectrins, their very distinct organization in red blood cells and neurons as two examples, and the contribution of the scaffolds they form to the mechanical properties of these cells.

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