PCTAIRE are members of a subfamily of Cdc2-related kinases that have been shown to be preferentially expressed in post-mitotic cells. To examine the neural functions of PCTAIRE, rat cDNA clones encoding PCTAIRE 1, 2, and 3 were isolated, and their expression patterns in the brain were analyzed. Among the three rat PCTAIREs, only PCTAIRE 2 was found to be specifically expressed in the brain. Furthermore, its expression was transiently increased during brain development, peaking 7-15 days after birth. Within the brain, PCTAIRE 2 was concentrated in the neuronal layers of the hippocampus and olfactory bulb, which mostly consist of post-mitotic neurons. In an immunocytochemical experiment, immunoreactivity for PCTAIRE 2 was detected in the cell bodies and extended neurites of neurons, but not in astrocytes. The PCTAIRE 2 protein was recovered in the particulate fraction and resistant to solubilization with non-ionic detergent, suggesting that PCTAIRE 2 might be present as a component of a large protein complex. An immunoprecipitation assay revealed that the PCTAIRE 2 was associated with Ser/Thr-phosphorylating activity for histone H1, and that its activity depended on association with a regulatory partner that can be released under high-salt conditions. These findings suggest that PCTAIRE 2 is a Ser/Thr kinase that might play a unique role in terminally differentiated neurons.