Blebbistatin is a small molecule inhibitor discovered in a screen for inhibitors of nonmuscle myosin IIA. Blebbistatin inhibits the actin-activated MgATPase activity and in vitro motility of class II myosins. In cells, it has been shown to inhibit contraction of the cytokinetic ring. Blebbistatin has some photochemical properties that may affect its behavior in cells. In particular, we have found that exposure to light at wavelengths below 488 nm rapidly inactivates the inhibitory action of blebbistatin using the in vitro motility of myosin as an assay. In addition, the inhibition of cytokinetic ring contraction can be reversed by exposure of the cells to blue light. This property may be useful in locally reversing the action of blebbistatin treatment in a cell. However, caution should be exercised as free radicals may be produced upon irradiation of blebbistatin that could result in cell damage.
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