Human Monocyte Chemotactic Protein (MCP)-2 has originally been isolated from stimulated osteosarcoma cells as a chemokine coproduced with MCP-1 and MCP-3. Here, a 5'-end extended MCP-2 cDNA was cloned from a human testis cDNA library. It encoded a 76 residue MCP-2 protein, but differed from the reported bone marrow-derived MCP-2 cDNA sequence in codon 46, which coded for a Lys instead of a Gln. This MCP-2Lys46 variant, caused by a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), was biologically compared with MCP-2Gln46. The coding regions were subcloned into the bacterial expression vector pHEN1, and after transformation of Escherichia coli, the two MCP-2 protein variants were recovered from the periplasm. The recombinant proteins were purified to homogeneity by heparin-Sepharose affinity chromatography and reversed-phase HPLC. Edman degradation revealed a Gln residue at the NH2 terminus instead of a pGlu. To evaluate the influence of the cyclization, this Gln was chemically converted into pGlu in both MCP-2 variants. The conversion was confirmed by electrospray mass spectrometry. rMCP-2Gln46 and rMCP-2Lys46 and the NH2-terminal cyclic counterparts were tested on monocytic cells in calcium mobilization and chemotaxis assays. No significant difference in biological activity was observed between the rMCP-2Gln46 and rMCP-2Lys46 isoforms. However, for both MCP-2 variants the NH2-terminal pyroglutamate was shown to be essential for chemotaxis, but not for calcium mobilization. NH2-terminal truncation of rMCP-2Lys46 by the serine protease CD26/dipeptidyl peptidase IV (CD26/DPP IV) resulted in the cleavage of the NH2-terminal Gln-Pro dipeptide, whereas synthetic MCP-2 with an amino-terminal pGlu remained unaffected. CD26/DPP IV-clipped rMCP-2Lys46(3-76) was almost completely inactive in both chemotaxis and signaling assays. These observations indicate that the NH2-terminal pGlu in MCP-2 is necessary for chemotactic activity but also that it protects the protein against degradation by CD26/DPP IV.