BackgroundAromatic amino acids and their derivatives are valuable chemicals and are precursors for different industrially compounds. p-Coumaric acid is the main building block for complex secondary metabolites in commercial demand, such as flavonoids and polyphenols. Industrial scale production of this compound from yeast however remains challenging.ResultsUsing metabolic engineering and a systems biology approach, we developed a Saccharomyces cerevisiae platform strain able to produce 242 mg/L of p-coumaric acid from xylose. The same strain produced only 5.35 mg/L when cultivated with glucose as carbon source. To characterise this platform strain further, transcriptomic analysis was performed, comparing this strain’s growth on xylose and glucose, revealing a strong up-regulation of the glyoxylate pathway alongside increased cell wall biosynthesis and unexpectedly a decrease in aromatic amino acid gene expression when xylose was used as carbon source.ConclusionsThe resulting S. cerevisiae strain represents a promising platform host for future production of p-coumaric using xylose as a carbon source.