Nitrogen assimilation is a vital process controlling plant growth and development. Inorganic nitrogen is assimilated into the amino acids glutamine, glutamate, asparagine, and aspartate, which serve as important nitrogen carriers in plants. The enzymes glutamine synthetase (GS), glutamate synthase (GOGAT), glutamate dehydrogenase (GDH), aspartate aminotransferase (AspAT), and asparagine synthetase (AS) are responsible for the biosynthesis of these nitrogen-carrying amino acids. Biochemical studies have revealed the existence of multiple isoenzymes for each of these enzymes. Recent molecular analyses demonstrate that each enzyme is encoded by a gene family wherein individual members encode distinct isoenzymes that are differentially regulated by environmental stimuli, metabolic control, developmental control, and tissue/cell-type specificity. We review the recent progress in using molecular-genetic approaches to delineate the regulatory mechanisms controlling nitrogen assimilation into amino acids and to define the physiological role of each isoenzyme involved in this metabolic pathway.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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