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Earlier, we reported that chronic cadmium (Cd)-exposure to prostate epithelial (RWPE-1) cells causes defective autophagy, which leads to the transformation of a malignant phenotype in both in vitro and in vivo models. However, the upstream events responsible for defective autophagy are yet to be delineated. The present study suggests that chronic Cd exposure induces endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress that triggers the phosphorylation of stress transducers [protein kinase R-like ER Kinase- (PERK), eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2-alpha- (eIF2-α) and Activating Transcription Factor 4 –(ATF-4)], resulting in defective autophagy that protects Cd-exposed RWPE-1 cells. On the other hand, inhibition of the ATF4 stress inducer by siRNA blocked the Cd-induced defective autophagy in transforming cells. While dissecting the upstream activators of ER stress, we found that increased expression of reactive oxygen species (ROS) is responsible for ER stress in Cd-exposed RWPE-1 cells. Overexpression of antioxidants (SOD1/SOD2) mitigates Cd-induced ROS that results in inhibition of ER stress and autophagy in prostate epithelial cells. These results suggest that the induction of ROS and subsequent ER stress are responsible for defective autophagy in Cd-induced transformation in prostate epithelial cells.Increased expression of ROS is responsible for ER stress in Cadmium exposed RWPE-1 cells.Chronic cadmium exposure induces ER stress that causes defective autophagy.SOD1 overexpression mitigates Cd-induced ROS resulting in autophagy inhibition in RWPE-1 cellsATF-4 overexpression results in defective autophagy that protects Cd-exposed RWPE-1 cellsDefective autophagy protects cadmium exposed damaged cells and leads to transformation.