Transcriptional regulatory networks refine gene expression boundaries to define the dimensions of organ progenitor territories. Kidney progenitors originate within the intermediate mesoderm (IM), but the pathways that establish the boundary between the IM and neighboring vessel progenitors are poorly understood. Here, we delineate roles for the zinc-finger transcription factor Osr1 in kidney and vessel progenitor development. Zebrafish osr1 mutants display decreased IM formation and premature emergence of lateral vessel progenitors (LVPs). These phenotypes contrast with the increased IM and absent LVPs observed with loss of the bHLH transcription factor Hand2, and loss of hand2 partially suppresses osr1 mutant phenotypes. hand2 and osr1 are expressed together in the posterior mesoderm, but osr1 expression decreases dramatically prior to LVP emergence. Overexpressing osr1 during this timeframe inhibits LVP development while enhancing IM formation, and can rescue the osr1 mutant phenotype. Together, our data demonstrate that osr1 modulates the extent of IM formation and the temporal dynamics of LVP development, suggesting that a balance between levels of osr1 and hand2 expression is essential to demarcate the kidney and vessel progenitor territories.

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