Gene expression is a stepwise process involving distinct cellular processes including transcription, mRNA (mRNA) processing, mRNA export, and translation. As mRNAs are being synthesized, proteins associate with the RNA to form messenger ribonucleoprotein particles (mRNPs). Previous studies have demonstrated that the RNA-binding protein composition of these mRNPs is dynamic, changing as the mRNP moves through the different steps of gene expression, and playing a critical role in these events. An important step during this maturation process occurs at the cytoplasmic face of the nuclear pore complex (NPC) where the export protein Gle1 bound to inositol hexakisphosphate (IP 6) spatially activates the ATP-hydrolysis and mRNP-remodeling activity of the DEAD-box protein Dbp5. Recent work from our laboratory and others has provided important insights into the function and regulation of Dbp5. These include a more detailed explanation of the mechanism of Dbp5 RNP remodeling, the role of Gle1-IP6 in stimulating Dbp5 ATPase activity, and the identification of a novel paradigm for regulation of Dbp5 by Nup159. Based on in vitro biochemical assays, X-ray crystallography, and corresponding in vivo phenotypes, we propose here an updated model of the Dbp5 cycle during mRNP export through the NPC. This takes into account all available data and provides a platform for future studies.