AcDNA encoding a new alpha2,8-sialyltransferase (ST8Sia IV), which exhibits activity toward the alpha,2,3-linked sialic acids of N-linked oligosaccharides, was cloned from a mouse lung cDNA library by means of the PCR-based approach. The predicted amino acid sequence of ST8Sia IV showed 15.2, 56.0, and 26% identity with those of so far cloned mouse alpha2,8-sialytransferases, i.e. GD3 synthase (ST8Sia I), STX(ST8Sia II), and Sia(alpha)2,3Galbeta1,4GlcNAc(alpha)2,8-sialyl-transferase (ST8Sia III). ST8Sia IV exhibits high amino acid sequence identity (99.2%) with recently cloned hamster polysialyltransferase-1 gene, which is necessary to polysialic acid expression, but no enzymatic activity of the gene product was reported [Eckhardt, M. et al. (1995) Nature 373, 715-718]. The ST8Sia IV gene was strongly expressed in lung, heart, and spleen, but only weak expression of the gene was observed in brain, without remarkable developmental regulation. The activity of mouse ST8Sia IV was specific toward sialylated glycoproteins. The linage-specific sialidase treatment of glycoproteins as well as N-linked oligosaccharides from the glycoproteins revealed that ST8Sia IV exhibits an alpha2,8-sialytransferase activity toward alpha2,3-linked sialic acids of N-linked oligosaccharides. ST8Sia IV can synthesize polysialic acid chain in vitro without any initiator sialytransferase.