During mammalian brain development, how different astrocytes are specified from progenitor cells is not well understood. In particular, whether astrocyte progenitor cells (APCs) start as a relatively homogenous population or whether there is early heterogeneity remains unclear. Here, we have dissected subpopulations of embryonic mouse forebrain progenitors using single-cell transcriptome analyses. Our sequencing data revealed two molecularly distinct APC subgroups at the start of gliogenesis from both dorsal and ventral forebrains. The two APC subgroups were marked, respectively, by specific expression of Sparc and Sparcl1, which are known to function in mature astrocytes with opposing activities for regulating synapse formation. Expression analyses showed that SPARC and SPARCL1 mark APC subgroups that display distinct temporal and spatial patterns, correlating with major waves of astrogliogenesis during development. Our results uncover an early molecular divergence of APCs in the mammalian brain and provide a useful transcriptome resource for the study of glial cell specification.

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