Medicinal Chemistry and Use of Myosin II Inhibitor ( S)-Blebbistatin and Its Derivatives

J Med Chem. 2018 Nov 8;61(21):9410-9428. doi: 10.1021/acs.jmedchem.8b00503. Epub 2018 Jun 21.


( S)-Blebbistatin, a chiral tetrahydropyrroloquinolinone, is a widely used and well-characterized ATPase inhibitor selective for myosin II. The central role of myosin II in many normal and pathological biological processes has been revealed with the aid of this small molecule. The first part of this manuscript provides a summary of myosin II and ( S)-blebbistatin literature from a medicinal chemist's perspective. The second part of this perspective deals with the physicochemical deficiencies that trouble the use of ( S)-blebbistatin in advanced biological settings: low potency and solubility, fluorescence interference, (photo)toxicity, and stability issues. A large toolbox of analogues has been developed in which particular shortcomings have been addressed. This perspective provides a necessary overview of these developments and presents guidelines for selecting the best available analogue for a given application. As the unmet need for high-potency analogues remains, we also propose starting points for medicinal chemists in search of nanomolar myosin II inhibitors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chemistry, Pharmaceutical
  • Drug Discovery / methods*
  • Heterocyclic Compounds, 4 or More Rings / chemistry
  • Heterocyclic Compounds, 4 or More Rings / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Myosin Type II / antagonists & inhibitors*


  • Heterocyclic Compounds, 4 or More Rings
  • blebbistatin
  • Myosin Type II