Recently, we and others have cloned cDNAs encoding a second member of the Csk family of inhibitory tyrosine protein kinases, which we have termed Ntk. Intriguingly, the mouse ntk cDNA sequences published by two independent groups differed by the presence or absence of a 136 nucleotide-insert near their 5' ends. In this report, we demonstrate that this 136 nucleotide-sequence likely corresponds to a complete exon in the ntk gene (termed exon 2), and that the two types of cDNAs/transcripts are produced by alternative splicing. Using ribonuclease protection assays, it was also established that brain and lymphoid organs, as well as most hemopoietic cells, predominantly expressed ntk transcripts lacking exon 2. In contrast, selected hemopoietic cell lines, such as the immature myeloid cell lines 32D cl3(G) and WEHI-3B, exclusively possessed exon 2-bearing RNAs. Interestingly, exon 2 introduced a novel in-frame upstream AUG in the ntk transcript, which is in the appropriate context for translation initiation. Evidence was obtained that this AUG is utilized in vivo, and that it extends the amino-terminal sequence of Ntk by 40 amino acids. Indeed, while exon 2-deficient ntk RNAs were translated into a 52 kilodalton (kDa) polypeptide (p52ntk), those bearing exon 2 produced a 56 kDa protein (p56ntk). Furthermore, p56ntk, but not p52ntk, was recognized by an antiserum directed against the novel amino-terminal sequence encoded by exon 2. Additional biochemical characterizations showed that p52ntk and p56ntk were localized to the cytoplasm, and that they partially accumulated in the detergent-insoluble cellular fraction. This last finding suggested that the Ntk proteins can associate with the cytoskeleton. Finally, through linkage analysis of two multilocus crosses, the ntk gene was mapped to Chromosome 10 in the mouse. Taken together, these data showed that ntk, a csk-related tyrosine protein kinase gene, encodes two protein isoforms expressed in distinct cell types. Moreover, they raised the possibility that Ntk may be involved in the regulation of Src-like enzymes in detergent-insoluble cellular compartments.