Activation of metastatic reprogramming is critical for tumour metastasis. However, more detailed knowledge of the underlying mechanism is needed to enable targeted intervention. Here, we show that paraspeckle component 1 (PSPC1), identified in an aberrant 13q12.11 locus, is upregulated and associated with poor survival in patients with cancer. PSPC1 promotes tumorigenesis, epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), stemness and metastasis in multiple cell types and in spontaneous mouse cancer models. PSPC1 is the master activator for transcription factors of EMT and stemness and accompanies c-Myc activation to facilitate tumour growth. PSPC1 increases transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1) secretion through an interaction with phosphorylated and nuclear Smad2/3 to potentiate TGF-β1 autocrine signalling. Moreover, PSPC1 acts as a contextual determinant of the TGF-β1 pro-metastatic switch to alter Smad2/3 binding preference from tumour-suppressor to pro-metastatic genes. Having validated the PSPC1-Smads-TGF-β1 axis in various cancers, we conclude that PSPC1 is a master activator of pro-metastatic switches and a potential target for anti-metastasis drugs.