- The functioning of a group of cells as a tissue depends on intercellular communication; an example is the spread of action potentials through intestinal tissue resulting in synchronized contraction. Recent evidence for cell heterogeneity within smooth muscle tissues has renewed research into cell coupling. Electrical coupling is essential for propagation of action potentials in gastrointestinal smooth muscle. Metabolic coupling may be involved in generation of pacemaker activity. This review deals with the role of cell coupling in tissue function and some of the issues discussed are the relationship between electrical synchronization and gap junctions, metabolic coupling, and the role of interstitial cells of Cajal in coupling.