Extracellular matrix interactions: Sulfation of connective tissue polysaccharides creates macroion binding templates and conditions for dissipative structure formation

  • Comper W
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Evidence is now accumulating that the post-polymer modification process of sulfation of connective tissue polysaccharides is primarily to provide an interactive macroion for enthalpic interactions rather than influence thermodynamic non-ideality which primarily affects water distribution in biological systems. Metabolic energy considerations also distinguish these physicochemical classifications. Thermodynamic non-ideality is embodied in the carboxyl group and polysaccharide chain which are energetically favoured in biosynthesis, whereas considerable energy input is required for sulfation. The sulfation process gives rise to macroions, with a wide variety of negative charge patterns, that may participate in heterotypic macromolecular interactions. This partial informational specificity is discussed in terms of evolutionary flexibility of the extracellular matrix as rationalized on the qualitative aspects of dissipative structure formation. The concept of multiple binding interactions of varying specificity associated with connective tissue polysaccharides raises the awareness of a more random, less highly ordered, extracellular matrix as compared to the tight machine-like organization generally found for processes in the cell. This is discussed in terms of the physiological adaptation and development of multicellular-tissue systems. © 1990 Academic Press Limited.

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  • Wayne D. Comper

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