Adenosine metabolism is the cornerstone of energy generation in many organisms and, in addition, levels of extracellular adenosine act as a potent signalling stimulus for multiple cellular pathways. Zuberova et al. show that, in flies, a buildup of extracellular adenosine is fatal owing to its effects on glucose metabolism and storage. These observations provide new clues for unravelling mechanisms of stress-induced hyperglycemia and chronic infection leading to wasting in humans.

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