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Glucose-stimulated and pancreatic islet beta cell-specific expression of the insulin gene is mediated in part by the C1 DNA-element binding complex, termed RIPE3b1. In this report, we define the molecular weight range of the protein(s) that compose this beta cell-enriched activator complex and show that protein phosphatase treatment inhibits RIPE3b1 DNA binding activity. Fractionation of beta cell nuclear extracts by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis indicated that RIPE3b1 binding was mediated by a protein(s) within the 37-49-kDa ranges. Direct analysis of the proteins within the RIPE3b1 complex by ultraviolet light cross-linking analysis identified three binding species of approximately 51, 45, and 38 kDa. Incubating beta cell nuclear extracts with either calf alkaline phosphatase or a rat brain phosphatase preparation dramatically reduced RIPE3b1 DNA complex formation. Phosphatase inhibition of RIPE3b1 binding was prevented by sodium pyrophosphate, a general phosphatase inhibitor. We discuss how changes in the phosphorylation status of the RIPE3b1 activator may influence its DNA binding activity.