Spectrin molecules are distributed uniformly throughout the submembranous regions of intact human erythrocytes. Spectrin does not appear to extend into the red blood cell cytoplasm to any significant extent. Thus, it does not form a recognizable internal scaffolding nor does it seem to connect distant segments of the cell membrane. Spectrin retains its submembranous location in the spiny processes of echinocytes produced by ATP depletion. Thus, these processes do not seem to form by a simple extrusion mechanism powered by contraction of the spectrin network. Spectrin seems to be important for the stability of the lipid bilayer of the red cell membrane, and it probably also plays a role in regulating red cell shape. How it performs either function is still unknown.

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