We have isolated and characterized the cDNA encoding nucleoside triphosphate diphosphohydrolase 6 (NTPDase6), a novel member of the ecto-nucleoside triphosphate diphosphohydrolase family. The rat-brain-derived cDNA has an open reading frame of 1365 bp encoding a protein of 455 amino acid residues, a calculated molecular mass of 49971 Da and a predicted N-terminal hydrophobic sequence. It shares 86% sequence identity with the human CD39L2 sequence and 48% and 51% identity respectively with sequences of the two related human and murine nucleoside diphosphatases (CD39L4, NTPDase5/ER-UDPase). The mRNA was expressed in all tissues investigated, revealing two major transcripts with differing abundances. PCR analysis suggests a single open reading frame. A Myc-His-tagged NTPDase6 was expressed in Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) and PC12 cells for immunological analysis and protein isolation. The protein was contained in membrane fractions of transfected CHO cells and occurred in a soluble form in the cell culture supernatants. NTPDase6 preferentially hydrolysed nucleoside 5'-diphosphates. With different substrates the order of activity was GDP>IDP>>UDP,CDP>>ADP. Nucleoside 5'-triphosphates were hydrolysed only to a minor extent and no hydrolysis of nucleoside 5'-monophosphates was observed. The enzyme was strongly and equally activated by Ca(2+) and Mg(2+) and had a K(m) for GDP of 211 microM. The immunohistochemical analysis of transfected CHO and PC12 cells suggests that NTPDase6 is associated with the Golgi apparatus and to a small extent also with the plasma membrane. The enzyme might support glycosylation reactions in the Golgi apparatus and, when released from cells, might catalyse the hydrolysis of extracellular nucleotides.