Discovery of the first non-peptide antagonist of the motilin receptor

Mary Pat Beavers, Joseph W. Gunnet, William Hageman, William Miller, John B. Moore, Lubing Zhou, Robert H.K. Chen, Amy Xiang, Maud Urbanski, Donald W. Combs, Kevin H. Mayo, Keith T. Demarest

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


A first-in-class non-peptide antagonist of the motilin receptor was identified through electronic screening of our corporate database against a 3D pharmacophore. The pharmacophore was developed from the motilin 22 residue endogenous peptide using NMR structural data, principles of peptide folding, and peptide structure activity relationships. The NMR data supported helical content within the peptide, and both the hydrophobic staple and N-capping box motifs were identified in the motilin sequence. The conformational features of these motifs were imposed on the peptide structure, providing a constrained conformer as a starting point for database searching. A trisubstituted cyclopentene lead was identified directly from the electronic search. Compounds in this series inhibit the binding of 125I-motilin to human antral smooth muscle membrane and antagonize motilin-induced intracellular calcium mobilization in cells expressing the human motilin receptor. A potent compound developed through optimization, RWJ 68023, is active in binding and cell-based functional assays and is also effective in inhibiting motilin-induced contractility in segments of rabbit duodenum. This orally active compound is currently undergoing clinical evaluation for the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders associated with altered motility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)243-251
Number of pages9
JournalDrug Design and Discovery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1 2000


  • 3D pharmacophore
  • Electronic database searching
  • Gastrointestinal
  • Hydrophobic staple motif
  • Motilin
  • N-capping box motif
  • Peptide folding


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