PDSS2 is a gene that encodes one of the two subunits of trans-prenyl diphosphate synthase that is essential for ubiquinone biosynthesis. It is known that mutations in PDSS2 can cause primary ubiquinone deficiency in humans and a similar disease in mice. Cerebellum is the most often affected organ in ubiquinone deficiency, and cerebellar atrophy has been diagnosed in many infants with this disease. In this study, two Pdss2 conditional knockout mouse lines directed by Pax2-cre and Pcp2-cre were generated to investigate the effect of ubiquinone deficiency on cerebellum during embryonic development and in adulthood, respectively. The Pdss2(f/-); Pax2-cre mouse recapitulates some symptoms of ubiquinone deficiency in infants, including severe cerebellum hypoplasia and lipid accumulation in skeletal muscles at birth. During early cerebellum development (E12.5-14.5), Pdss2 knockout initially causes the delay of radial glial cell growth and neuron progenitor migration, so the growth of mutant cerebellum is retarded. During later development (E15.5-P0), increased ectopic apoptosis of neuroblasts and impaired cell proliferation result in the progression of cerebellum hypoplasia in the mutant. Thus, the mutant cerebellum contains fewer neurons at birth, and the cells are disorganized. The developmental defect of mutant cerebellum does not result from reduced Fgf8 expression before E12.5. Electron microscopy reveals mitochondrial defects and increased autophagic-like vacuolization that may arise in response to abnormal mitochondria in the mutant cerebellum. Nevertheless, the mutant mice die soon after birth probably due to cleft palate and micrognathia, which may result from Pdss2 knockout caused by ectopic Pax2-cre expression in the first branchial arch. On the other hand, the Pdss2(f/-); Pcp2-cre mouse is healthy at birth but gradually loses cerebellar Purkinje cells and develops ataxia-like symptoms at 9.5 months; thus this conditional knockout mouse may serve as a model for ubiquinone deficiency in adult patients. In conclusion, this study provides two mouse models of Pdss2 based ubiquinone deficiency. During cerebellum development, Pdss2 knockout results in severe cerebellum hypoplasia by impairing cell migration and eliciting ectopic apoptosis, whereas Pdss2 knockout in Purkinje cells at postnatal stages leads to the development of cerebellar ataxia.
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