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Ferran Medina-Jover, Antoni Riera-Mestre, and Francesc Viñals

Angiogenesis is an essential process for correct development and physiology. This mechanism is tightly regulated by many signals that activate several pathways, which are constantly interacting with each other. There is mounting evidence that BMP9/ALK1 pathway is essential for a correct vessel maturation. Alterations in this pathway lead to the development of hereditary haemorrhagic telangiectasias. However, little was known about the BMP9 signalling cascade until the last years. Recent reports have shown that while BMP9 arrests cell cycle, it promotes the activation of anabolic pathways to enhance endothelial maturation. In light of this evidence, a new criterion for the classification of cytokines is proposed here, based on the physiological objective of the activation of anabolic routes. Whether this activation by a growth factor is needed to sustain mitosis or to promote a specific function such as matrix formation is a critical characteristic that needs to be considered to classify growth factors. Hence, the state-of-the-art of BMP9/ALK1 signalling is reviewed here, as well as its implications in normal and pathogenic angiogenesis.