Limited proteolysis of C1 inhibitor (C1-INH) by neutrophil elastase, Pseudomonas elastase and snake venoms resulted in initial cleavage within the molecule's N-terminus followed by further cleavage within the molecule's C-terminally placed reactive centre. N-Terminal proteolysis occurred at peptide bonds 14-15, 36-37 and 40-41. This had no effect on either the inhibitory activity or the heat-stability of C1-INH. Proteolysis within the reactive centre occurred at peptide bonds 439-440, 440-441, 441-442 and 442-443. Cleavage at any one of these sites inactivated C1-INH and conferred enhanced heat-stability upon a previously heat-labile molecule. Released neutrophil proteinases also cleaved and inactivated C1-INH, suggesting that they may physiologically regulate C1-INH during inflammatory episodes.

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