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.


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.

Ramanathan, S., Mazzalupo, S., Boitano, S., & Montfort, W. R. (2011). Thrombospondin-1 and angiotensin II inhibit soluble guanylyl cyclase through an increase in intracellular calcium concentration. Biochemistry, 50(36), 7787-99.

Nitric oxide (NO) regulates cardiovascular hemostasis by binding to soluble guanylyl cyclase (sGC), leading to cGMP production, reduced cytosolic calcium concentration ([Ca(2+)](i)), and vasorelaxation. Thrombospondin-1 (TSP-1), a secreted matricellular protein, was recently discovered to inhibit NO signaling and sGC activity. Inhibition of sGC requires binding to cell-surface receptor CD47. Here, we show that a TSP-1 C-terminal fragment (E3CaG1) readily inhibits sGC in Jurkat T cells and that inhibition requires an increase in [Ca(2+)](i). Using flow cytometry, we show that E3CaG1 binds directly to CD47 on the surface of Jurkat T cells. Using digital imaging microscopy on live cells, we further show that E3CaG1 binding results in a substantial increase in [Ca(2+)](i), up to 300 nM. Addition of angiotensin II, a potent vasoconstrictor known to increase [Ca(2+)](i), also strongly inhibits sGC activity. sGC isolated from calcium-treated cells or from cell-free lysates supplemented with Ca(2+) remains inhibited, while addition of kinase inhibitor staurosporine prevents inhibition, indicating inhibition is likely due to phosphorylation. Inhibition is through an increase in K(m) for GTP, which rises to 834 μM for the NO-stimulated protein, a 13-fold increase over the uninhibited protein. Compounds YC-1 and BAY 41-2272, allosteric stimulators of sGC that are of interest for treating hypertension, overcome E3CaG1-mediated inhibition of NO-ligated sGC. Taken together, these data suggest that sGC not only lowers [Ca(2+)](i) in response to NO, inducing vasodilation, but also is inhibited by high [Ca(2+)](i), providing a fine balance between signals for vasodilation and vasoconstriction.

Boitano, S., Flynn, A. N., Schulz, S. M., Hoffman, J., Price, T. J., & Vagner, J. (2011). Potent agonists of the protease activated receptor 2 (PAR2). Journal of medicinal chemistry, 54(5), 1308-13.

Novel peptidomimetic pharmacophores to PAR(2) were designed based on the known activating peptide SLIGRL-NH(2). A set of 15 analogues was evaluated with a model cell line (16HBE14o-) that highly expresses PAR(2). Cells exposed to the PAR(2) activating peptide with N-terminal 2-furoyl modification (2-furoyl-LIGRLO-NH(2)) initiated increases in intracellular calcium concentration ([Ca(2+)](i) EC(50) = 0.84 μM) and in vitro physiological responses as measured by the xCELLigence real time cell analyzer (RTCA EC(50) = 138 nM). We discovered two selective PAR(2) agonists with comparable potency: compound 1 (2-aminothiazol-4-yl; Ca(2+) EC(50) = 1.77 μM, RTCA EC(50) = 142 nM) and compound 2 (6-aminonicotinyl; Ca(2+) EC(50) = 2.60 μM, RTCA EC(50) = 311 nM). Unlike the previously described agonist, these novel agonists are devoid of the metabolically unstable 2-furoyl modification and thus provide potential advantages for PAR(2) peptide design for in vitro and in vivo studies. The novel compounds described herein also serve as a starting point for structure-activity relationship (SAR) design and are, for the first time, evaluated via a unique high throughput in vitro physiological assay. Together these will lead to discovery of more potent agonists and antagonists of PAR(2).