Résumé : We report the cloning and characterization of the spermatogenesis associated 6 gene (Spata6) encoding a predicted protein of 488 amino acids. It exhibits similarity with the motor domain of kinesin related proteins and with the Caenorhabditis elegans neural calcium sensor protein (NCS-2). The gene encodes three mRNAs of approximately 2.6, approximately 1.8 and approximately 1.2 kb. The expression of the 2.6 kb mRNA is detected at low levels in testis, ovary, thymus and placenta, while the 1.8 and 1.2 kb transcripts are exclusively expressed in testis. The 1.8 and 1.2 kb transcripts are specifically expressed in haploid germ cells. Data from in situ hybridization experiments suggested that mRNA expression of Spata6 in spermatids is higher than in spermatocytes and spermatogonia. RT-PCR analysis and whole mount in situ hybridization demonstrate that the Spata6 transcript is expressed during embryonic development and is localized in neural tube, somites and limb buds of mouse embryo. The Spata6 gene consists of 15 exons ranging in size between 40 and 596 bp. The 2.6 and 1.8 kb transcripts have different 5' untranslated sequences but have the same translational initiation site and therefore may encode the same protein with a predicted molecular weight of 49.7 kDa. The 1.2 kb transcript is derived from a proximal promoter between exons 7 and 8, and contains a translation initiation codon AUG, which is in frame with initiator AUG codon of the 2.6 and 1.8 kb transcripts. Therefore, the 1.2 kb transcript may code for a truncated protein of 32 kDa. Western blot analysis with the antiserum raised against a synthetic peptide from the C-terminal of the deduced Spata6 protein detects only a single protein of 53 kDa in all tissues studied. The Spata6 gene was localized to chromosome 5, region q34-35 in the rat and to chromosome 1, region p32-35 in the human. In an effort to determine the function of Spata6, we inactivated the mouse gene in embryonic stem cells through homologous recombination. Although the heterozygous mutant cells were able to generate low coat colour chimeric mice, all chimeras did not transmit the targeted allele to their progeny suggesting that a high contribution of Spata6(+/-) cells lead to the lethality of the chimeric embryos.