1. Human polymorphonuclear leucocyte elastase and cathepsin G were incubated with preparations of isolated human glomerular basement membrane at neutral pH and 37°C.
2. The ability of these enzymes to degrade glomerular basement membrane was followed by the release of hydroxyproline. Both proteinases released considerable amounts of hydroxyproline.
3. By using Sephadex G-100 it was shown that the solubilized basement membrane fragments appeared as a single peak and had a molecular weight of over 100 000. These proteins after reduction were analysed by sodium dodecyl sulphate-gel electrophoresis to examine their subunit pattern and determine their molecular size.
4. The released basement membrane proteins gave at least four precipitin lines with a rabbit anti-(glomerular basement membrane) antiserum.
5. These results support the concept that polymorphonuclear leucocyte neutral proteinases play an important role in the pathogenesis of glomerulonephritis.
6. At acid pH values cathepsin B also released hydroxyproline from human glomerular basement membrane but the lysosomal carboxyl proteinase, cathepsin D, had no action.