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Chondroitin Sulfates: Derivatives of chondroitin which have a sulfate moiety esterified to the galactosamine moiety of chondroitin. Chondroitin sulfate A, or chondroitin 4-sulfate, and chondroitin sulfate C, or chondroitin 6-sulfate, have the sulfate esterified in the 4- and 6-positions, respectively. Chondroitin sulfate B (beta heparin; Dermatan sulfate) is a misnomer and this compound is not a true chondroitin sulfate.

The Extracellular Matrix

JoVE 10695

In order to maintain tissue organization, many animal cells are surrounded by structural molecules that make up the extracellular matrix (ECM). Together, the molecules in the ECM maintain the structural integrity of tissue as well as the remarkable specific properties of certain tissues.

The extracellular matrix (ECM) is commonly composed of ground substance, a gel-like fluid, fibrous components, and many structurally and functionally diverse molecules. These molecules include polysaccharides called glycosaminoglycans (GAGs). GAGs occupy most of the extracellular space and often take up a large volume relative to their mass. This results in a matrix that can withstand tremendous forces of compression. Most GAGs are linked to proteins—creating proteoglycans. These molecules retain sodium ions based on their positive charge and therefore attract water, which keeps the ECM hydrated. The ECM also contains rigid fibers such as collagens—the primary protein component of the ECM. Collagens are the most abundant proteins in animals, making up 25% of protein by mass. A large diversity of collagens with structural similarities provide tensile strength to many tissues. Notably, tissue like skin, blood vessels, and lungs need to be both strong and stretchy to perform their physiological role. A protein called elastin gives p

 Core: Cell Structure and Function
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