Specific Correction of Alternative Survival Motor Neuron 2 Splicing by Small Molecules: Discovery of a Potential Novel Medicine To Treat Spinal Muscular Atrophy

J Med Chem. 2016 Jul 14;59(13):6086-100. doi: 10.1021/acs.jmedchem.6b00459. Epub 2016 Jul 6.


Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is the leading genetic cause of infant and toddler mortality, and there is currently no approved therapy available. SMA is caused by mutation or deletion of the survival motor neuron 1 (SMN1) gene. These mutations or deletions result in low levels of functional SMN protein. SMN2, a paralogous gene to SMN1, undergoes alternative splicing and exclusion of exon 7, producing an unstable, truncated SMNΔ7 protein. Herein, we report the identification of a pyridopyrimidinone series of small molecules that modify the alternative splicing of SMN2, increasing the production of full-length SMN2 mRNA. Upon oral administration of our small molecules, the levels of full-length SMN protein were restored in two mouse models of SMA. In-depth lead optimization in the pyridopyrimidinone series culminated in the selection of compound 3 (RG7800), the first small molecule SMN2 splicing modifier to enter human clinical trials.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alternative Splicing / drug effects*
  • Animals
  • Exons / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Muscular Atrophy, Spinal / drug therapy*
  • Muscular Atrophy, Spinal / genetics
  • Pyrimidinones / chemistry*
  • Pyrimidinones / pharmacokinetics
  • Pyrimidinones / pharmacology*
  • Pyrimidinones / therapeutic use
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics*
  • Survival of Motor Neuron 2 Protein / genetics*


  • Pyrimidinones
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Survival of Motor Neuron 2 Protein