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Cartilage plays diverse roles as a definitive supporting tissue in some organs, the basis of low friction surfaces in joints, and a transient morphogenetic template during embryogenesis and repair of the skeleton. The versatility of cartilage is derived from the remarkable material properties of its extracellular matrix, the wide spectrum of regulatory systems that influence the synthesis and degradation of the unique molecular constituents of this matrix, and the development and growth of the cells that produce it. This book touches on each of these areas and provides the first comprehensive reviews of the molecular biology of the genes specifying the collagenous and noncollagenous proteins of the cartilage matrix, as well as the biophysical chemical properties of the matrix that suits it to the various functions it performs. Up to date critical reviews of the mineralization and degradation of cartilage matrix, the roles of polypeptide growth and inducing factors, of ions, in the regulation of cartilage growth and development, and the unique requirements of the energy metabolism of cartilage as a nonvascular tissue, make this volume a useful source for concepts and results for the multiple disciplines that play a part in modern cartilage research.
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