The extracellular matrix regulates many fundamental cellular processes such as proliferation, migration, and differentiation. Among the ECM components, type I collagen induces endothelial tube formation in vitro.
By analysing genes participating in this event, the bone morphogenetic protein receptor-II (BMPR-II) was detected to be upregulated in cells cultured on or within fibrillar type I collagen. Furthermore, the basement membrane type IV collagen or amorphous type I collagen did not show an induction of BMPR-II. Addition of the BMPR-II specific ligands, BMP2 and BMP4, in the culture medium of the endothelial cells seeded on type I collagen increased [(3)H]-thymidine incorporation into cellular DNA, indicating that endothelial cells were able to form a functional receptor. In addition, in the chick chorioallantoic membrane (CAM), an in vivo angiogenesis model, BMPR-II and BMPR-I were upregulated in the growing phase and ceased in the mature CAM.