Scott A Boitano
Associate Research Scientist, Respiratory Sciences
Professor, BIO5 Institute
Professor, Cellular and Molecular Medicine
Professor, Physiological Sciences - GIDP
Professor, Physiology
Primary Department
Department Affiliations
(520) 626-2105
Research Interest
Dr. Scott Boitano Ph.D., is a Professor of Physiology, Cellular and Molecular Medicine, the BIO5 Institute and Associate Research Scientist of the Arizona Respiratory Center. Dr. Boitano received a B.S. in Plant Biology from University of California; Berkeley and a Ph.D. in Genetics & Cell Biology from Washington State University. Dr. Boitano’s primary research interest is in cell respiration. This encompasses the analysis and observation of cell physiology, cell-cell communications and cell-pathogen interactions. Dr. Boitano’s research pertains to the upper airway epithelium is an active cellular layer with ciliary movement to clear materials, the ability to secrete inflammatory effectors, and a biological barrier function that helps protect against pathogenic microorganisms, foreign insults and injury. Although much is known concerning the microbial genetics and microbial signaling of infection by Bordetella, relatively little is known about host cell pathology after exposure to Bordetella. Individuals have a primary tissue culture system that serves as an in vitro model of airway cell signaling and communication, and a battery of B. bronchiseptica strains, some of which are mutant in key factors shown to inhibit their ability to establish infection in animal models. His research goal is to define specific pathogen factors that alter host cell physiology to initiate or overcome host cell defense. The Boitano lab also analyzes the layers of the alveoli of the distal mammalian lung. Minimal information is known about this subject and Dr. Boitano believes that this model system for alveolar intercellular communication could expedite the formulating and testing of new medical treatments for dysfunctional alveolar cell physiology that underlies specific airway conditions following disease, insult and injury in the lung.


Otero-González, L., Sierra-Alvarez, R., Boitano, S., & Field, J. A. (2012). Application and validation of an impedance-based real time cell analyzer to measure the toxicity of nanoparticles impacting human bronchial epithelial cells. Environmental science & technology, 46(18), 10271-8.

Nanomaterials are increasingly used in a variety of industrial processes and consumer products. There are growing concerns about the potential impacts for public health and environment of engineered nanoparticles. The aim of this work was to evaluate a novel impedance-based real time cell analyzer (RTCA) as a high-throughput method for screening the cytotoxicity of nanoparticles and to validate the RTCA results using a conventional cytotoxicity test (MTT). A collection of 11 inorganic nanomaterials (Ag(0), Al(2)O(3), CeO(2), Fe(0), Fe(2)O(3), HfO(2), Mn(2)O(3), SiO(2), TiO(2), ZnO, and ZrO(2)) were tested for potential cytotoxicity to a human bronchial epithelial cell, 16HBE14o-. The data collected by the RTCA system was compared to results obtained using a more traditional methyl tetrazolium (MTT) cytotoxicity assay at selected time points following application of nanomaterials. The most toxic nanoparticles were ZnO, Mn(2)O(3) and Ag(0), with 50% response at concentrations lower than 75 mg/L. There was a good correlation in cytotoxicity measurements between the two methods; however, the RTCA method maintained a distinct advantage in continually following cytotoxicity over time. The results demonstrate the potential and validity of the impedance-based RTCA technique to rapidly screen for nanoparticle toxicity.

Zeng, C. C., Huynguyen, C., Boitano, S. A., Field, J. A., Shadman, F., & Sierra Alvarez, M. R. (2017). Cerium dioxide (CeO2) nanoparticles decrease arsenite (As(III)) cytotoxicity to 16HBE14o- human bronchial epithleial cells. Environmental Science: Nano, In Review.
Lantz, R. C., Chau, B., Runyan, R. B., & Boitano, S. A. (2017). Arsenic induces epithelial to mesenchymal transition in airway epithelial cells during postnatal lung development. Toxicological Sciences.
BIO5 Collaborators
Scott A Boitano, Clark Lantz
Caldwell, P. T., Thorne, P. A., Johnson, P. D., Boitano, S., Runyan, R. B., & Selmin, O. (2008). Trichloroethylene disrupts cardiac gene expression and calcium homeostasis in rat myocytes. Toxicological sciences : an official journal of the Society of Toxicology, 104(1), 135-43.

We have been investigating the molecular mechanisms by which trichloroethylene (TCE) might induce cardiac malformations in the embryonic heart. Previous results indicated that TCE disrupted expression of genes encoding proteins involved in regulation of intracellular Ca2+, [Ca2+](i), in cardiac cells, including ryanodine receptor isoform 2 (Ryr2), and sarcoendoplasmatic reticulum Ca2+ ATPase, Serca2a. These observations are important in light of the notion that altered cardiac contractility can produce morphological defects. The hypothesis tested in this study is that the TCE-induced changes in gene expression of Ca2+-associated proteins resulted in altered Ca2+ flux regulation. We used real-time PCR and digital imaging microscopy to characterize effects of various doses of TCE on gene expression and Ca2+ response to vasopressin (VP) in rat cardiac H9c2 myocytes. We observed a reduction in Serca2a and Ryr2 expression at 12 and 48 h after exposure to TCE. In addition, we found significant differences in Ca2+ response to VP in cells treated with TCE doses as low as 10 parts per billion. Taken all together, our data strongly indicate that exposure to TCE disrupts the ability of myocytes to regulate cellular Ca2+ fluxes. Perturbation of calcium signaling alters cardiac cell physiology and signal transduction and may hint to morphogenetic consequences in the context of heart development. These results point to a novel area of TCE biology and, if confirmed in vivo, may help to explain the apparent cardio-specific toxicity of TCE exposure in the rodent embryo.

Boitano, S., Olsen, C. O., Isakson, B. E., Seedorf, G. J., Lubman, R. L., & Boitano, S. A. (2005). Extracellular matrix-driven alveolar epithelial cell differentiation in vitro. Experimental lung research, 31(5).

During homeostasis and in response to injury, alveolar type II (AT2) cells serve as progenitor cells to proliferate, migrate, differentiate, and re-establish both alveolar type I (AT1) and AT2 cells into a functional alveolar epithelium. To understand specific changes in cell differentiation, we monitored morphological characteristics and cell-specific protein markers over time for isolated rat AT2 cells cultured on combinations of collagen, fibronectin and/or laminin-5 (Ln5). For all matrices tested, cultured AT2 cells displayed reduced expression of AT2 cell-specific markers from days 1 to 4 and increased expression of AT1-specific markers by day 3, with continued expression until at least day 5. Over days 5 to 7 in culture, cells took on an AT1-like phenotype (on collagen/fibronectin alone; collagen alone; or Ln5 alone), an AT2-like phenotype (on collagen/fibronectin/Ln5; or collagen/Ln5), or both AT1-like and AT2-like phenotypes (on collagen/fibronectin matrix with a subsaturating amount of Ln5). Cells transferred between matrices at day 4 of culture retained the ability to alter day 7 phenotype. We conclude that in vitro, (1) AT2 cells exhibited phenotype plasticity that included an intermediate cell type with both AT1 and AT2 cell characteristics independent of day 7 phenotype; (2) both collagen and Ln5 were needed to promote the development of an AT2-like phenotype at day 7; and (3) components of the extracellular matrix (ECM) contribute to phenotypic switching of alveolar cells in culture. The described tissue culture models provide accessible models for studying changes in alveolar epithelial cell physiology from AT2 cell progenitors to the establishment of alveolar epithelial monolayers that represent AT1-like, AT2-like, or a mix of AT1- and AT2-like cells.