SCOTCH: subtype A coreceptor tropism classification in HIV-1

Bioinformatics. 2018 Aug 1;34(15):2575-2580. doi: 10.1093/bioinformatics/bty170.


Motivation: The V3 loop of the gp120 glycoprotein of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus 1 (HIV-1) is considered to be responsible for viral coreceptor tropism. gp120 interacts with the CD4 receptor of the host cell and subsequently V3 binds either CCR5 or CXCR4. Due to the fact that the CCR5 coreceptor is targeted by entry inhibitors, a reliable prediction of the coreceptor usage of HIV-1 is of great interest for antiretroviral therapy. Although several methods for the prediction of coreceptor tropism are available, almost all of them have been developed based on only subtype B sequences, and it has been shown in several studies that the prediction of non-B sequences, in particular subtype A sequences, are less reliable. Thus, the aim of the current study was to develop a reliable prediction model for subtype A viruses.

Results: Our new model SCOTCH is based on a stacking approach of classifier ensembles and shows a significantly better performance for subtype A sequences compared to other available models. In particular for low false positive rates (between 0.05 and 0.2, i.e. recommendation in the German and European Guidelines for tropism prediction), SCOTCH shows significantly better prediction performances in terms of partial area under the curves and diagnostic odds ratios compared to existing tools, and thus can be used to reliably predict coreceptor tropism for subtype A sequences.

Availability and implementation: SCOTCH can be downloaded/accessed at

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • CCR5 Receptor Antagonists
  • Computational Biology / methods
  • HIV Envelope Protein gp120 / metabolism*
  • HIV Infections / metabolism*
  • HIV Infections / virology
  • HIV-1 / metabolism*
  • HIV-1 / physiology
  • Humans
  • Receptors, CCR5 / drug effects
  • Receptors, CCR5 / metabolism
  • Receptors, CXCR4 / metabolism
  • Sequence Analysis, Protein / methods*
  • Software*
  • Viral Tropism*


  • CCR5 Receptor Antagonists
  • CCR5 protein, human
  • CXCR4 protein, human
  • HIV Envelope Protein gp120
  • Receptors, CCR5
  • Receptors, CXCR4