The origin and evolution of multicellular metazoa was accompanied by the appearance of extracellular matrix. The demineralized extracellular matrix of bone is enriched in morphogenetic proteins that induce bone. Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) are intimately bound to collagens. BMP-4 has high affinity for type-IV collagen, and other binding proteins such as noggin and chordin. Soluble morphogens are kept in the solid state by extracellular matrix. In this sense Nature used the principles of affinity matrices long before humans patented the principle of affinity chromatography.

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