The MYST family of histone acetyltransferases (HATs) was initially defined by human genes with disease connections and by yeast genes identified for their role in epigenetic transcriptional silencing. Since then, many new MYST genes have been discovered through genetic and genomic approaches. Characterization of the complexes through which MYST proteins act, regions of the genome to which they are targeted and biological consequences when they are disrupted, all deepen the connections of MYST proteins to development, growth control and human cancers. Many of the insights into MYST family function have come from studies in model organisms. Herein, we review functions of two of the founding MYST genes, yeast SAS2 and SAS3, and the essential yeast MYST ESA1. Analysis of these genes in yeast has defined roles for MYST proteins in transcriptional activation and silencing, and chromatin-mediated boundary formation. They have further roles in DNA damage repair and nuclear integrity. The observation that MYST protein complexes share subunits with other HATs, histone deacetylases and other key nuclear proteins, many with connections to human cancers, strengthens the idea that coordinating distinct chromatin modifications is critical for regulation.