The islet-enriched MafA, PDX-1, and BETA2 activators contribute to both beta cell-specific and glucose-responsive insulin gene transcription. To investigate how these factors impart activation, their combined impact upon insulin enhancer-driven expression was first examined in non-beta cell line transfection assays. Individual expression of PDX-1 and BETA2 led to little or no activation, whereas MafA alone did so modestly. MafA together with PDX-1 or BETA2 produced synergistic activation, with even higher insulin promoter activity found when all three proteins were present. Stimulation was attenuated upon compromising either MafA transactivation or DNA-binding activity. MafA interacted with endogenous PDX-1 and BETA2 in coimmunoprecipitation and in vitro GST pull-down assays, suggesting that regulation involved direct binding. Dominant-negative acting and small interfering RNAs of MafA also profoundly reduced insulin promoter activity in beta cell lines. In addition, MafA was induced in parallel with insulin mRNA expression in glucose-stimulated rat islets. Insulin mRNA levels were also elevated in rat islets by adenoviral-mediated expression of MafA. Collectively, these results suggest that MafA plays a key role in coordinating and controlling the level of insulin gene expression in islet beta cells.