NS5ATP9, a gene up-regulated by NS5A, plays a crucial oncogenic role in several types of human tumours. However, the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. Autophagy, an evolutionarily conserved catabolic process, maintains cellular homeostasis under stress conditions, such as starvation, and plays a crucial role in tumour initiation and progression. Here, we report that NS5ATP9 mRNA and protein expression was up-regulated in starved HepG2 cells and that the up-regulated NS5ATP9 played a functional role in starvation-induced autophagy. Overexpression or silencing of this gene showed contrasting effects on Beclin 1 and on starvation-induced autophagy. Furthermore, NS5ATP9-mediated autophagy is required for promotion of tumour cell growth, and this effect could be inhibited with 3-methyladenine, chloroquine or by Beclin 1-silencing. Thus, the mechanism for NS5ATP9-promoted autophagy is Beclin 1-dependent in the condition of starvation, and for hepatoblastoma cell growth is also Beclin 1-dependent.