Cytidine monophospho-N-acetylneuraminic acid (CMP-NeuAc) hydroxylase is a key enzyme for the expression of N-glycolylneuraminic acid. The molecular cloning of this enzyme from mouse liver has been described in our previous report (Kawano T, Koyama S, Takematsu H, Kozutsumi Y, Kawasaki H, Kawashima S, Kawasaki T, Suzuki A (1995) J Biol Chem 270: 16458-63). During the cDNA cloning, a cDNA containing a truncated open reading frame (ORF) was isolated. This clone encodes a protein of 531 amino acids which lacks 46 amino acids in the middle of the normal full-length protein. The percentage of this mRNA containing the truncated ORF out of the total population of CMP-NeuAc hydroxylase mRNA in various mouse tissues was about 10-25%. The truncated protein was expressed in COS-1 cells, but did not show any enzymatic activity. The truncated protein was localized to the region which appeared to be the endoplasmic reticulum, whereas the full-length protein with normal enzymatic activity was detected in the cytosol. These data suggest that this naturally occurring 46-amino acid deletion leads to a change in the intracellular distribution of CMP-NeuAc hydroxylase, and a loss in the activity of this enzyme.