ARTICLE ABSTRACTPosttranslational neddylation of cullins in the Cullin-Ring E3 ligase (CRL) complexes is needed for proteolytic degradation of CRL substrates, whose accumulation induces cell-cycle arrest, apoptosis, and senescence. The Nedd8-activating enzyme (NAE) is critical for neddylation of CRL complexes and their growth-promoting function. Recently, the anticancer small molecule MLN4924 currently in phase I trials was determined to be an inhibitor of NAE that blocks cullin neddylation and inactivates CRL, triggering an accumulation of CRL substrates that trigger cell-cycle arrest, apoptosis, and senescence in cancer cells. Here, we report that MLN4924 also triggers autophagy in response to CRL inactivation and that this effect is important for the ability of MLN4924 to suppress the outgrowth of liver cancer cells in vitro and in vivo. MLN4924-induced autophagy was attributed partially to inhibition of mTOR activity, due to accumulation of the mTOR inhibitory protein Deptor, as well as to induction of reactive oxygen species stress. Inhibiting autophagy enhanced MLN4924-induced apoptosis, suggesting that autophagy is a survival signal triggered in response to CRL inactivation. In a xenograft model of human liver cancer, MLN4924 was well-tolerated and displayed a significant antitumor effect characterized by CRL inactivation and induction of autophagy and apoptosis in liver cancer cells. Together, our findings support the clinical investigation of MLN4924 for liver cancer treatment and provide a preclinical proof-of-concept for combination therapy with an autophagy inhibitor to enhance therapeutic efficacy. Cancer Res; 72(13); 3360–71. ©2012 AACR.