Previously, four splice variants of human cGMP-specific phosphodiesterase (PDE) 9A (PDEs 9A1, 9A2, 9A3 and 9A4) have been identified. In this study, we have cloned a cDNA representing a new human PDE9A variant (PDE9A5). PDE9A5 encodes a protein of 492 amino acids, smaller than PDEs 9A1 and 9A2 but larger than PDEs 9A3 and 9A4. The exon structure of PDE9A5 is different from those of PDEs 9A1, 9A2, 9A3 and 9A4 in that, of the 20 exons of PDE9A gene, it lacks exons 2 and 5. PDE9A5 has been characterized in comparison with PDE9A1, the longest PDE9A variant. PDEs 9A5 and 9A1 have similar enzymatic properties. They both have a high affinity for cGMP with similar Km values (0.39 and 0.25 microM, respectively), although they have slightly different Vmax values (2.55 and 0.96 micromol/min/mg, respectively). They exhibit very similar divalent metal ion dependency and inhibitor sensitivity. Real-time quantitative PCR analysis shows that PDEs 9A5 and 9A1 exhibit differential tissue distribution. They are highly expressed in immune tissues (spleen, lymph node and thymus) and are more abundant in T cells than in B cells, neutrophils and monocytes. When transiently expressed in HEK293 cells, PDEs 9A5 and 9A1 proteins exhibit differential subcellular localization. PDE9A5 localizes exclusively in the cytoplasm, whereas PDE9A1 localizes in the nucleus only. The nuclear localization of PDE9A1 is dependent on a unique pat7 motif. By Western blot analysis, native PDE9A1 is detectable in the nucleus but not in the cytoplasm of T cells. Thus, to our knowledge, PDE9A1 is the only PDE isoform found to localize exclusively in the nucleus. We speculate that the physiological role of the PDE9A diversity may be imparting cGMP-metabolizing ability to specific cellular compartments in appropriate tissues.