Blebbistatin, the best characterized myosin II-inhibitor, is commonly used to study the biological roles of various myosin II isoforms. Despite its popularity, the use of blebbistatin is greatly hindered by its blue-light sensitivity, resulting in phototoxicity and photoconversion of the molecule. Additionally, blebbistatin has serious cytotoxic side effects even in the absence of irradiation, which may easily lead to the misinterpretation of experimental results since the cytotoxicity-derived phenotype could be attributed to the inhibition of the myosin II function. Here we report the synthesis as well as the in vitro and in vivo characterization of a photostable, C15 nitro derivative of blebbistatin with unaffected myosin II inhibitory properties. Importantly, para-nitroblebbistatin is neither phototoxic nor cytotoxic, as shown by cellular and animal tests; therefore it can serve as an unrestricted and complete replacement of blebbistatin both in vitro and in vivo.
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