The strength and duration of phosphoinositide signalling from phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3K) activation to Akt is tightly balanced by phosphoinositide kinases and phosphatases. However, how phosphatase-mediated negative regulatory effects are concomitantly disrupted in cancers, which commonly exhibit constitutively activated PI3K/Akt signalling, remains undefined. Here we report that miR-508 directly suppresses multiple phosphatases, including inositol polyphosphate-5-phosphatase J (INPP5J), phosphatase and tensin homologue (PTEN) and inositol polyphosphate 4-phosphatase type I (INPP4A), resulting in constitutive activation of PI3K/Akt signalling. Furthermore, we find that overexpressing miR-508 promotes, while silencing miR-508 impairs, the aggressive phenotype of oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) both in vitro and in vivo. Importantly, the level of miR-508 correlates with poor survival and activated PI3K/Akt signalling in a large cohort of ESCC specimens. These findings uncover a mechanism for constitutive PI3K/Akt activation in ESCC, and support a functionally and clinically relevant epigenetic mechanism in cancer progression.