Department of Biology, New York University, Washington Square, New York, New York 10003 INTRODUCTION Studies of enzymes involved in nitrogen assimilation in higher plants have an impact on both basic and applied plant research. First, basic research in this area should uncover the mechanisms by which plants regulate genes involved in a metabolic pathway. Second, because nitrogen is a rate-limiting element in plant growth (Hageman and Lambert, 1988), it may be possible to increase the yield or improve the quality of crop plants by the molecular or genetic manipulation of genes involved in nitrogen assimilation. Researchon nitrogen assimilation into amino acids has been complicated by the fact that some of these reactions are catalyzed by multiple isoenzymes located in distinct subcellular compartments. With traditional biochemical approaches, it has been impossible to sort out the function of each isoenzyme in plant nitrogen metabolism.The discovery that genes for chloroplastic and cytosolic isoenzymes of glutamine synthetase (GS) are expressed in distinct cell types (Edwards et al., 1990; Carvalhoet al., 1992; Kamachiet al., 1992)suggeststhat traditional biochemical studies, which begin with tissue disruption, artificially mix isoenzymes that may not coexist in the same cell type in vivo. Thus, in vitro biochemical methods commonly
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