By performing an integrated comparative analysis on the physiology and transcriptome of four different S. cerevisiae strains growing on galactose and glucose, it was inferred that the transcription factors Bas1p, Pho2p, and Gcn4p play a central role in the regulatory events causing the Crabtree effect in S. cerevisiae. The analysis also revealed that a point mutation in the RAS2 observed in a galactose-adapted strain causes a lower Crabtree effect and growth rate on glucose by decreasing the activity of Gcn4p while at the same time is at the origin of higher growth rate on galactose due to a lower activity of the transcriptional repressor Sok2p. The role of Gcn4p on the trade-off effect observed on glucose was confirmed experimentally. This was done by showing that the point mutation in RAS2 does not result in a lower growth rate on glucose if it is introduced in a GCN4-negative background. © 2014 Federation of European Microbiological Societies. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. All rights reserved.